How to Find the Right Physical Therapist School Near Glencoe Alabama
Receiving a physical therapist degree near Glencoe AL is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated 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 must receive the appropriate training and education. 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 prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are considering to ensure they will supply a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we cover 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 is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, such as Glencoe 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 earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Glencoe AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Available
There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is available 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 preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Glencoe AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually made available by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to ready students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just 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 available in the United States. A number of practicing 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 Programs Online
While not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Glencoe AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly less than similar on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
By now you most likely have come to decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Glencoe AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you enroll in the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Ask if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional 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 choose an online school, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with some Glencoe AL physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your school options. It might also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Glencoe AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the school has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you choose provides both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have relationships with Glencoe AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Glencoe medical community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized 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 want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Glencoe AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously 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 choose to enroll in a college 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 frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and find out what type of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy program you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Glencoe AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Glencoe Physical Therapy School
Picking the right physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you have to make to begin a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that a number of variables will guide you to your final decision. You might decide to go to each of the schools to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me realize 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 best selection. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Glencoe Alabama.