How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Daleville Alabama
Receiving a physical therapist degree near Daleville AL is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are thinking about to make sure they will supply a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is choose a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered besides location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists practice in varying locations, such as Daleville 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 struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Daleville AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are three physical therapy degrees available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Daleville AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often provided by community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prepare students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a licensed practicing 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 commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion 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 attainable in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Degrees Online
Although not as common as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Daleville AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
At this point you probably have made a decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Daleville AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Moreover, you want to be sure that you pick the program that is ideal for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. 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 school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact some Daleville AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your college options. 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 schools.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Daleville AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you choose furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria 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 program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are assessing have associations with Daleville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Daleville medical community and help with job placement once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with several 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 school they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Daleville AL residence. Those who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT schools offer some type of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid office and see what type of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy program you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Daleville AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Daleville Physical Therapy School
Picking the best physical therapy program is an important first decision you have to make to start a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you pick should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you to your final decision. You might want to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Daleville Alabama.