How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Enterprise Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Enterprise AL is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are looking at to make sure they will deliver a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered in addition to 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 a variety of locations, such as Enterprise AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share 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 injury or illness. 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 prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Enterprise AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering 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 long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees
There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate 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 target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Enterprise AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to complete and commonly 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 also must 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 commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an important element along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in a number of 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 attainable in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Online Programs
While not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees available, 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 requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Enterprise AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat lower than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
By now you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary questions, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Enterprise AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to look into additional qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Moreover, you want to make certain that you select the school that is best for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national 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 choose an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the School's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with several Enterprise AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare 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 a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Enterprise AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you choose provides both superior training and a course of study 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 therapy school. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have partnerships with Enterprise AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Enterprise medical community and assist with job placement once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Enterprise AL residence. Students who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble 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 decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? The majority of DPT colleges offer 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 getting a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance may be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Enterprise AL area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Enterprise Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the best physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you must make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are other critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to go to different campuses to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Enterprise Alabama.