How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Dixiana Alabama
Receiving a physical therapist degree near Dixiana AL is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. 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 be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will supply a quality education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Dixiana AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Dixiana AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may 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 considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees
There are three physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Dixiana AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to complete and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an important component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in some 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 phased out and is no longer available in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Degrees Online
While not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Dixiana AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition can be significantly less than comparable on campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
By now you most likely have come to decision concerning a few of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapy degree you want to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Dixiana AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you pick the college that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional 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 choose an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call several Dixiana AL physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your program selections. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Dixiana AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps excellent. It also affirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you select provides both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. 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 fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are reviewing have relationships with Dixiana AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Dixiana medical community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering 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 an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Dixiana AL residence. Those 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. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of assistance is available. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist program you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Dixiana AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask 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 Dixiana Physical Therapist School
Selecting the right physical therapy school is an important first decision you need to make to launch a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you pick should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that many factors will guide you toward your final decision. You might decide to visit different campuses to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Dixiana Alabama.