How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy College Near Daphne Alabama
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Daphne AL is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the proper education and training. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate the ones you are considering to ensure they will deliver a superior education and satisfy 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 home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered 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 the options for education.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists practice in varying locations, including Daphne AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Daphne AL health professionals, 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. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly 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 3 physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Daphne AL area:
- Associate Degrees train 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 GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a component of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to prepare students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of at least 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 complete, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in some states for licensing also.
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. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Degrees Online
Although not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure 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 an available internship. However, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Daphne AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition might 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, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Daphne AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you need to make certain that you pick the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online school, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call several Daphne AL physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your program options. It may also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Daphne AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or even exceptional. It also affirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements 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 therapist school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing have associations with Daphne AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional connections in the Daphne healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Daphne AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local 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 need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid department and see what kind of help is obtainable. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy program you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Daphne AL area, confirm that they are available. 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, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Daphne Physical Therapist School
Choosing the best physical therapy college is an important first decision you have to make to launch a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are other important questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that many factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to go to each of the campuses to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Daphne Alabama.