How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Harvest Alabama
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Harvest AL is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the proper education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are thinking about to make sure they will provide a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated along with cost and location. 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists work in varying locations, such as Harvest AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Harvest AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite 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 Therapist Degrees Offered
There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is offered 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. Below are brief explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Harvest AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to complete and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential component in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in some 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 offered in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Schools Online
While not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Harvest AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat less than comparable on campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
By now you probably have made a decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Harvest AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you want to make certain that you enroll in the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier mentioned, 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 may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the School's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Harvest AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your program options. It might also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest 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 hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Harvest AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the school has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you enroll in furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are interested in have partnerships with Harvest AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner 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 students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Harvest health care community and help with job placement after licensing.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the average teacher to student 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 speak with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Harvest AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. 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 generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT schools provide some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance office and find out what type of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Harvest AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Harvest Physical Therapist School
Choosing the ideal physical therapist college is a necessary first decision you need to make to begin a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you choose should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are other critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that many variables will lead you toward your final decision. You might decide to go to different schools to see their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me achieve 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 right choice. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Harvest Alabama.