How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Arab Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Arab AL is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate those you are considering to make sure they will deliver a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists work in varying locations, including Arab AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Arab AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Offered
There are three physical therapy degrees available for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Arab AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to complete and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Online Schools
While not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs available, 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 close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Arab AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
At this point you most likely have made a decision concerning a few of your initial questions, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Arab AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to look into other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you need to make sure that you select the school that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Ask if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online school, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the College's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call a few Arab AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your program options. It may 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 College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left because of displeasure 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 school's job placement program, particularly in the Arab AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even exceptional. It also confirms that the school has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you choose furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have associations with Arab AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional connections in the Arab medical community and help with job placement once licensed.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they select will have to be within driving distance of their Arab AL home. Students who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT colleges offer some form of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance department and see what kind of aid is available. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Arab AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Arab Physical Therapist School
Selecting the ideal physical therapy program is an important initial decision you have to make to start a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you pick should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are other important questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to each of the colleges to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the right choice. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Arab Alabama.