How to Select the Right Physical Therapist School Near Clanton Alabama
Getting a physical therapy degree near Clanton AL is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the necessary education and training. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate those you are considering to ensure they will supply a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, including Clanton AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Clanton AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees
There are three physical therapist degrees available for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is offered 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 prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Clanton AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to ready candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an important element along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion 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 taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Colleges Online
While not as common as the more traditional options, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Clanton AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition might be significantly less than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary questions, such as the type of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Clanton AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you need to make sure that you select the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Ask if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you enroll in an online college, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Clanton AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your school selections. It might also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Clanton AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the school has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you choose provides both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are assessing have associations with Clanton AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Clanton healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Clanton AL home. Those who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing 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 generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT schools offer some form of financial support to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid department and see what type of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy program you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Clanton AL area, make certain 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 have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Clanton Physical Therapist School
Selecting the right physical therapy program is a necessary initial decision you have to make to begin a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that numerous variables will lead you toward your final decision. You might decide to go to different campuses to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the best choice. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Clanton Alabama.