How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Hoover Alabama
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Hoover AL is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important 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 should not do is choose a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, including Hoover 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 diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Hoover AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee 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 profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Available
There are three physical therapist degrees available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Hoover 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 a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often provided by community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to move up 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 the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to finish and usually 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an important component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Degrees
While not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs 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 near the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Hoover AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
By now you probably have come to decision concerning some of your initial queries, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Hoover AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you want to make sure that you select the school 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 colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 select an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call some Hoover AL physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your program options. It might also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Hoover AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the school has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements vary 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 Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are interested in have partnerships with Hoover AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Hoover healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Hoover AL residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program 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 for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial aid office and find out what kind of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist program you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Hoover AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Hoover Physical Therapist School
Choosing the best physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you have to make to begin a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you select should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are additional relevant questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that many factors will lead you to your final decision. You may want to visit different campuses to view their facilities and speak with 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 have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the best selection. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Hoover Alabama.