How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Clanton Alabama
Getting a physical therapy degree near Clanton AL is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care industry. 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 obtain the proper training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are thinking about to ensure they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we discuss 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, such as Clanton AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Clanton AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
There are three physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Clanton AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to ready candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically take 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). 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. Practical or clinical training is an essential component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only 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 offered in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Colleges
While not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Clanton AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be significantly lower than similar on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring 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.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
At this point you probably have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary questions, including the type of physical therapist degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Clanton AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school options. Moreover, you want to make certain that you choose the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. 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 select an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the School's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact a few Clanton AL physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your program options. It may also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Clanton AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you choose provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have associations with Clanton AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Clanton health care community and assist with job placement once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Clanton AL home. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble 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 choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are considering have a financial assistance department and see what kind of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy school you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Clanton AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option 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 due to illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Clanton Physical Therapist School
Selecting the right physical therapist school is a necessary first decision you have to make to start a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you pick should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that a number of factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to visit different campuses to view their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important 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 right selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Clanton Alabama.