How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy School Near Demopolis Alabama
Earning a physical therapy degree near Demopolis AL is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the proper training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will furnish a quality 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 important qualifications that need to be evaluated 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 what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Demopolis AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Demopolis AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are three physical therapist degree options available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Demopolis AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often offered by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally take 4 years to complete and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the total commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an important element along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.
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 offered 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 implemented.
Physical Therapy Schools Online
While not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online portion of the course of study 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 a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than similar on campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
By now you probably have come to decision concerning a few of your preliminary questions, including the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Demopolis AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you enroll in the school that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with a few Demopolis AL physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your school options. It might also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students dropped out 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 help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Demopolis AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the college has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you choose provides both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are assessing have relationships with Demopolis AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Demopolis healthcare community and assist with job placement once licensed.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing 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 ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Demopolis AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to consider 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 typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT schools offer some form of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and see what kind of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapist school you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Demopolis AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Demopolis Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the right physical therapist program is an important initial decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that numerous variables will lead you to your final decision. You might want to go to different colleges to view their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Demopolis Alabama.