How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Center Point Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Center Point AL is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the proper training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate the ones you are looking at to make certain they will deliver a superior 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 nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, such as Center Point AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Center Point AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees
There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become 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. Following are brief summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Center Point AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually provided by community or junior colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and commonly include 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an important component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, 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 United States. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Schools Online
While not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, 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 requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Center Point AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition can be significantly lower than similar on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
At this point you most likely have come to decision concerning some of your initial queries, including the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Center Point AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to research other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you choose the program that is best for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Find out if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national 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 choose an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the College's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Call a few Center Point AL physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your program selections. It may also be a good idea 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 couple of relevant statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Center Point AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the school has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you select provides both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements differ 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? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are interested in have associations with Center Point AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Center Point medical community and assist with job placement once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they select will need to be within driving distance of their Center Point AL home. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually 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 Aid Offered? Most DPT schools offer some type of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy program you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Center Point AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Center Point Physical Therapy School
Picking the best physical therapist college is an important first decision you must make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are other relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that a number of variables will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to visit different colleges to view their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Center Point Alabama.