How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Foley Alabama
Earning a physical therapist degree near Foley AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to research those you are looking at to make certain they will deliver a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we talk about 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, including Foley AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent 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
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Foley AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Foley AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by community or junior colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program also must 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 training is an important element in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in a number of 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 offered in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Degrees Online
Although not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs offered, 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 near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Foley AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition may be significantly less than similar on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
By now you probably have made a decision regarding a few of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapy degree you want to earn, 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 Foley AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to research additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you need to be sure that you choose the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Ask if the programs you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with some Foley AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your college options. It may also be prudent to check with 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 Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Foley AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the school has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you choose provides both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements fluctuate 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 additional exams.
Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapist schools you are evaluating have associations with Foley AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Foley healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Foley AL home. Those who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school 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 generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial aid office and find out what type of help is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance may be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapy school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Foley AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Foley Physical Therapist School
Selecting the best physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you need to make to start a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that a number of variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might want to go to different colleges to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Foley Alabama.