How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist School Near Demopolis Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Demopolis AL is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are looking at to make certain they will provide a superior education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered besides cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
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 the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop 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 requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Demopolis AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees
There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Demopolis AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become 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 equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often made available by community colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a component of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prepare candidates 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. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a practicing licensed 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 overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just 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 licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Degrees Online
Although not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience 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 less than comparable on campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
At this point you most likely have come to decision regarding several of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you would like to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Demopolis AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Also, you need to make sure that you select the program that is right for you. That's why we have compiled a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national 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 essential that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. 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 Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. 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 may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Call some Demopolis AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your program options. It may also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage 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 health care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you choose furnishes 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 required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are reviewing have relationships with Demopolis AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Demopolis healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools 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 final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Demopolis AL home. Students who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something 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 often 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 Offered? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are considering have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of help is obtainable. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist school you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Demopolis AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Demopolis Physical Therapist School
Choosing the right physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you have to make to launch a rewarding career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that numerous factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to visit each of the campuses to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Demopolis Alabama.