How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Center Point Alabama
Getting a physical therapy degree near Center Point AL is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are considering to make certain they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists work in diverse settings, including 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 diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Center Point AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Center Point AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually provided by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an important element in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Colleges Online
Although not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to 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 Center Point AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition may be significantly less than similar on campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
At this point you probably have come to decision regarding several of your initial queries, including the kind of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Center Point AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to look into additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to make sure that you enroll in the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Ask if the programs you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously 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 can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call some Center Point AL physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your program selections. It might also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Center Point AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps excellent. It also affirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you enroll in furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. 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 program. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are interested in have associations with Center Point AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Center Point healthcare community and help with job placement once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy 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 determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Center Point AL residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble 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 decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may 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 Help Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some form of financial support to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of aid is available. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist college you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Center Point AL area, make sure 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 carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Center Point Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the ideal physical therapist college is a necessary first decision you must make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you pick should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that many factors will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to visit each of the schools to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Center Point Alabama.