How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Gadsden Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Gadsden AL is an essential first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of 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 obtain the appropriate training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are considering to make sure they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is choose a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant 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 cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists practice in varying locations, including Gadsden AL private practices, hospitals, 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 previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Gadsden AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
There are three physical therapist degrees offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Gadsden AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually provided by community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a component of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of at least 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 three years to complete, making the total investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only 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 available in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Online Colleges
While not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs available, more so 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 necessitates that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Gadsden AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat less than similar on campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning a few of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Gadsden AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to look into other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to make sure that you choose the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Find out if the programs you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing 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 therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning 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 agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Gadsden AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your school 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 submitted against the schools.
What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Gadsden AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have relationships with Gadsden AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Gadsden healthcare community and help with job placement once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing 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 final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Gadsden AL home. Those 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 consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and see what kind of help is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may 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 Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapist school you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Gadsden AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Gadsden Physical Therapy School
Picking the best physical therapy program is an important initial decision you must make to begin a gratifying career in the health care 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 other relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that many variables will guide you toward your final decision. You might decide to go to different campuses to see 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 following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Gadsden Alabama.