How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Demopolis Alabama
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Demopolis AL is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the necessary training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will provide a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, including Demopolis AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Demopolis AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is rather 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 Therapist Degrees Available
There are three physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate 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 preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Demopolis 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 a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically provided by community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prepare students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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 complete, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in several states for licensing also.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Online Colleges
Although not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Demopolis AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition can be significantly lower than similar on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
By now you probably have come to decision concerning several of your preliminary questions, like the type of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Demopolis AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to look into other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Also, you want to make sure that you select the college that is best for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Find out if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously 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 enroll in an online college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact some Demopolis AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your college selections. It might also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Demopolis AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you select provides both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have relationships with Demopolis AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Demopolis health care community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Demopolis AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required 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 don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT colleges provide some type of financial support to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and see what type of aid is offered. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of 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 might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Demopolis AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Demopolis Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the best physical therapy college is an important initial decision you need to make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that many factors will lead you to your final decision. You may want to visit each of the colleges to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the right choice. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Demopolis Alabama.