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Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding several of your preliminary queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Birmingham AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college options. Moreover, you need to make certain that you select the school that is best for you. That's why we have compiled a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier 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 school, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call several Birmingham AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your program selections. It may also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Birmingham AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you choose provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies 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 school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are reviewing have partnerships with Birmingham AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Birmingham health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing 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 a chance to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Birmingham AL home. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance office and see what type of help is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Birmingham AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.

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