How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Enterprise Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Enterprise AL is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the appropriate education and training. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are looking at to make certain they will furnish 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 nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated 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 is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists work in diverse locations, including Enterprise AL private practices, hospitals, 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 earlier mentioned, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Enterprise AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees
There are three physical therapy degree options available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Enterprise AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically provided by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a component of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to complete and often 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the total commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an important component along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not only 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 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 existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Online Colleges
Although not as common as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Enterprise AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition may be significantly less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
At this point you probably have made a decision concerning several of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Enterprise AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to look into additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Moreover, you want to be sure that you enroll in the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Find out if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. 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 earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. 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 aid.
What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call some Enterprise AL physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your college selections. It may also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Enterprise AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or employment after graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you select furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have partnerships with Enterprise AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Enterprise health care community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing 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 speak with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Enterprise AL residence. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern 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 even out of your local area, you might have 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 Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are considering have a financial aid department and see what kind of aid is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may 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 finally you must verify that the physical therapist program you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Enterprise AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Enterprise Physical Therapy School
Deciding on the right physical therapy program is an important first decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that a number of variables will guide you toward your final decision. You may want to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the best selection. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Enterprise Alabama.