How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Andalusia Alabama
Receiving a physical therapist degree near Andalusia AL is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are considering to make certain they will provide a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered along with location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Andalusia AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Andalusia AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Andalusia AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by junior or community colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to complete and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential element along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in several states for licensing also.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Programs Online
Although not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Andalusia AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar on campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning some of your initial questions, including the type of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Andalusia AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to look into other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you pick the college that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you enroll in an online college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact several Andalusia AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your college selections. It might also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Andalusia AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the college has a wide network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have relationships with Andalusia AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Andalusia medical community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Andalusia AL residence. Those who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT colleges provide some type of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are considering have a financial aid department and see what type of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Andalusia AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Andalusia Physical Therapy School
Choosing the right physical therapy college is an important first decision you must make to launch a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional relevant questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that numerous factors will lead you to your final decision. You might decide to go to different colleges to see their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Andalusia Alabama.