How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Glencoe Alabama
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Glencoe AL is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate those you are looking at to make sure they will deliver 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 residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Glencoe AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Glencoe AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are three physical therapy degree options available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Glencoe AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by junior or community colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to ready students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not just 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 phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Schools Online
Although not as common as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined 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 portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Glencoe AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on campus options, and expenses 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 ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
By now you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, including the type of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Glencoe AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Moreover, you need to make sure that you select 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 therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have received 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 choose an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can research a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact some Glencoe AL physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your school selections. It might also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapist programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, 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 Glencoe AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or employment after graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you select 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing have associations with Glencoe AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Glencoe healthcare community and help with job placement once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Glencoe AL home. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance may be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Glencoe AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Glencoe Physical Therapy School
Deciding on the best physical therapist program is a necessary first decision you must make to start a gratifying career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But 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 program keep in mind that a number of variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit different schools to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Glencoe Alabama.