How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Brook Highland Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Brook Highland AL is an essential first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients 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 acquire the appropriate training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will deliver a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we discuss 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 diverse settings, such as Brook Highland AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Brook Highland AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees
There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Brook Highland AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often offered by junior or community colleges, and take about 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 developed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a licensed practicing 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 complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an important 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 replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Online Colleges
Although not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study 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 many cases more affordable. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
At this point you probably have made a decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Brook Highland AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to explore additional qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you pick the college that is best for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier 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 select an online college, it may 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, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with some Brook Highland AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your school selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Brook Highland AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also confirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you choose provides both superior training and a curriculum that supports 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are assessing have associations with Brook Highland AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Brook Highland health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Brook Highland AL home. Individuals who have opted 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 importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of help is available. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Brook Highland AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Brook Highland Physical Therapy School
Deciding on the right physical therapy college is an important initial decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to go to different schools to view their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me accomplish 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 choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Brook Highland Alabama.