How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy College Near Eufaula Alabama
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Eufaula AL is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are considering to make sure they will deliver a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose 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 evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, such as Eufaula AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Eufaula AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees
There are three physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to pursue 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 concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Eufaula AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 three years to complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an important element in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in some states for licensing also.
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. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate 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, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online part of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Eufaula AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition can be significantly less than similar on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
By now you most likely have come to decision regarding several of your preliminary queries, like the type of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Eufaula AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to look into other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school options. Moreover, you want to make certain that you enroll in the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Ask if the programs you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 enroll in an online school, it may also earn 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. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the School's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Eufaula AL physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your program options. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Eufaula AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or even exceptional. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a curriculum 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have associations with Eufaula AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Eufaula medical community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Eufaula AL home. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously 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 decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT schools offer some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance department and find out what type of help is available. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist program you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Eufaula AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Eufaula Physical Therapy School
Selecting the right physical therapist school is an important first decision you have to make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical field. 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 additional critical questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that numerous factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to visit different schools to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Eufaula Alabama.