How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Dothan Alabama
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Dothan AL is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are looking at to make certain they will deliver a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered along with cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists practice in varying settings, such as Dothan AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design 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. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Dothan AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Available
There are three physical therapy degrees offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Dothan AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to finish and commonly 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 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 essential component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in some states for licensing also.
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 attainable in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Degrees Online
Although not as common as the more traditional options, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined 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 course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Dothan AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
By now you most likely have made a decision regarding several of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Dothan AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you pick the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 school, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact a few Dothan AL physical therapy centers or other health care 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 a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students dropped out 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 help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Dothan AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment after graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you enroll in provides both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are evaluating have relationships with Dothan AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Dothan healthcare community and assist with job placement once licensed.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the typical teacher to student 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 a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Dothan AL home. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep 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 have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid department and see what kind of help is available. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapy program you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Dothan AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Dothan Physical Therapy School
Choosing the best physical therapist college is an important initial decision you have to make to start a rewarding career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are additional critical questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you to your final decision. You may decide to go to each of the campuses to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me reach 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 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 Dothan Alabama.