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Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

By now you probably have made a decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Helena AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you select the college that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier 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 can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing 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 Program's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with some Helena AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your program selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Helena AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you enroll in furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have partnerships with Helena AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional connections in the Helena 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 far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk 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 a lot of students, the physical therapy school they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Helena AL home. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT colleges provide some form of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid department and find out what type of help is available. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist college you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Helena AL area, confirm that they are available. 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, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

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