How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy College Near Forestdale Alabama
Getting a physical therapy degree near Forestdale AL is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to research those you are looking at to make sure they will supply a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated besides 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 the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in varying settings, such as Forestdale AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes 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 struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, 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 abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Forestdale AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Forestdale AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually made available by community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to ready students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required in order 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 3 years to complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in several 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 offered in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Colleges Online
Although not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure 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 a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Forestdale AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat less than comparable on-campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
By now you most likely have made a decision regarding several of your initial queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Forestdale AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school options. Moreover, you want to make certain that you pick the program that is best for you. That's why we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are considering 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 select an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call some Forestdale AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your program options. It may also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Forestdale AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports 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 program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing have associations with Forestdale AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Forestdale medical community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they select will need to be within driving distance of their Forestdale AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally 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 choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT schools supply some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial aid department and find out what kind of aid is available. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy program you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Forestdale AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Forestdale Physical Therapist School
Choosing the best physical therapy program is a necessary initial decision you must make to start a gratifying career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are other relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that many variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may want to visit each of the schools to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Forestdale Alabama.