How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Dothan Alabama
Earning a physical therapy degree near Dothan AL is an essential first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the proper education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are considering to make sure they will provide a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered along with 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including Dothan AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Dothan AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees
There are three physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is available 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 readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Dothan AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in a number of 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 available in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Colleges Online
While not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Dothan AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs 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 alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
At this point you probably have come to decision concerning some of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Dothan AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Also, you want to be sure that you pick the college that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Find out if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call several Dothan AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your college selections. 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 submitted against the schools.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist schools you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Dothan AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the college has a large network of contacts to help students gain 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 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 therapy college. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have partnerships with Dothan AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get 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 develop professional relationships in the Dothan medical community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Dothan AL residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Support Offered? The majority of DPT schools provide some form of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy school you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Dothan AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Dothan Physical Therapist School
Selecting the ideal physical therapist program is an important first decision you have to make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But 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 therapist school bear in mind that many variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may want to go to each of the schools to view their facilities and speak to active 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 following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Dothan Alabama.