How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Brewton Alabama
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Brewton AL is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will provide a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, such as Brewton AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Brewton AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise 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 thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees
There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Brewton AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to ready students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to finish and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a licensed practicing 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 most cases. Clinical training is an intregal component along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Degrees Online
While not as common as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more 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 necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Brewton AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on campus options, and expenses 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 option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
At this point you most likely have come to decision regarding some of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Brewton AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you choose the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional 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 choose an online college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have exceptional 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 place their graduates with. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact several Brewton AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your college selections. 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 Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two useful statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Brewton AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you enroll in provides both exceptional 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 required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have partnerships with Brewton AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to obtain practical 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 graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Brewton healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering what the average teacher to student 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 a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Brewton AL home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry 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 choose 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 normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT schools provide some form of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid office and see what type of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Brewton AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses 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.
Enroll in the Right Brewton Physical Therapist School
Picking the right physical therapist program is an important initial decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are other important questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that a number of variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to visit different schools to view their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Brewton Alabama.