How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Atmore Alabama
Earning a physical therapy degree near Atmore AL is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the necessary training and education. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are looking at to make sure they will deliver a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is choose a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered along with cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Atmore AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Atmore AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, 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 Degrees
There are three physical therapy degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is available 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 prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Atmore AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to complete and commonly include 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 must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal element in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Online Degrees
Although not as common as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Atmore AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition can be significantly 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 advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
By now you most likely have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, including the type of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Atmore AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to look into additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Also, you need to make sure that you pick the college that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Find out if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously stated, 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 college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with some Atmore AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your program 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 Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After 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 suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you enroll in provides both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are reviewing have associations with Atmore AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Atmore medical community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Atmore AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something 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 may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT colleges offer some type of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance department and see what kind of help is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy college you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Atmore AL area, make sure 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 enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Atmore Physical Therapy School
Deciding on the ideal physical therapist school is an important initial decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are additional relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that many variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit different campuses to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Atmore Alabama.