How to Select the Right Physical Therapy School Near Boaz Alabama
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Boaz AL is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are looking at to ensure they will deliver a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered along with location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, such as Boaz AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Boaz AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather 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 Therapist Degrees Offered
There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Boaz AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a component of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prepare students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the total investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in several states for licensing also.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer available in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Degrees
While not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Boaz AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than comparable on campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
By now you probably have made a decision regarding a few of your preliminary questions, such as the type of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Boaz AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to look into additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to be sure that you pick the school that is best for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online college, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact some Boaz AL physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your college options. It may also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once 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 Boaz AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment after graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you enroll in provides both excellent training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are reviewing have partnerships with Boaz AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional connections in the Boaz healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class 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 therapy colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Boaz AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps 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 commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT schools offer some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid office and see what kind of aid is available. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy program you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Boaz AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Boaz Physical Therapist School
Choosing the best physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are other important questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that a number of variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may want to visit each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me realize 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 field so you can make the ideal selection. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Boaz Alabama.