How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Brook Highland Alabama
Receiving a physical therapist degree near Brook Highland AL is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the proper education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are looking at to make sure they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including Brook Highland AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Brook Highland AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees
There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Brook Highland AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically provided by community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential element along with the substantial classroom and lab 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 taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Programs Online
Although not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees 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 requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Brook Highland AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition may be significantly lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenses 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 right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
By now you probably have come to decision concerning some of your preliminary questions, like the type of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Brook Highland AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to research other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to make certain that you select the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Ask if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional 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 program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact several Brook Highland AL physical therapy centers 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 may 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 College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Brook Highland AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you choose provides both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria 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 therapy program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are evaluating have relationships with Brook Highland AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Brook Highland medical community and assist with job placement once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the average teacher to student 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 speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Brook Highland AL home. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing 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 often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT schools offer some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department and see what kind of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy program you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Brook Highland AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Brook Highland Physical Therapy School
Picking the best physical therapist college is an important initial decision you need to make to start a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that many factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk to current 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 following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Brook Highland Alabama.