How to Find the Right Physical Therapy School Near Boaz Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Boaz AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the necessary training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are considering to ensure they will deliver a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated besides cost and location. 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in varying settings, including Boaz AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Boaz AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Offered
There are three physical therapy degree options available for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become 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. Following are short summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Boaz AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to complete and often include an internship program of at least 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 three years to finish, making the total investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential element along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in some 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 attainable 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 existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Schools
Although not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Boaz AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition can be somewhat less than comparable on-campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Boaz AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to research additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you pick the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously 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 enroll in an online college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call some Boaz AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your school options. It might also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Boaz AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you select furnishes 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have partnerships with Boaz AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to get practical training 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 students and graduates form professional connections in the Boaz healthcare community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.
What are the Class Sizes ? 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 undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Boaz AL home. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose 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 commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Offered? 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 aid department and find out what type of assistance is obtainable. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Boaz AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option 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.
Choose the Right Boaz Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the best physical therapy school is a necessary first decision you need to make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that a number of factors will lead you to your final decision. You may decide to go to each of the colleges 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 supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Boaz Alabama.