How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Atmore Alabama
Earning a physical therapist degree near Atmore AL is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the proper education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate those you are thinking about to ensure they will provide a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we cover 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Atmore AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Atmore AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees
There are three physical therapy degrees available for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Atmore AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 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 total commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in several 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 phased out and is no longer offered in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Programs Online
Although not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Atmore AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
At this point you most likely have come to decision concerning a few of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapist degree you intend to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Atmore AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to be sure that you select the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier 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 choose an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact a few Atmore AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your program selections. It may also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Atmore AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the school has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Atmore AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Atmore medical community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Atmore AL home. Students who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT schools offer some type of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid office and find out what type of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy school you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Atmore AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Atmore Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the right physical therapy school is a necessary first decision you must make to start a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional relevant questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that many variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might want to go to different colleges to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school 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 options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Atmore Alabama.