How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Arab Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Arab AL is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated along with cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists work in varying settings, such as Arab AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Arab AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees
There are three physical therapist degree options available for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Arab AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually provided by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to ready students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Degrees Online
While not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Arab AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be significantly less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
By now you most likely have made a decision concerning some of your preliminary questions, including the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Arab AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you choose the program that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously mentioned, 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 program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call a few Arab AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your college options. It may also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Arab AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you select furnishes both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. 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 supplemental exams.
Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have relationships with Arab AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Arab healthcare community and help with job placement once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Arab AL residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously 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 consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? The majority of DPT schools offer some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid office and find out what type of aid is available. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Arab AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Arab Physical Therapist School
Choosing the best physical therapy college is a necessary first decision you must make to start a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that numerous variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit each of the schools to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me achieve 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 best selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Arab Alabama.