How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Hueytown Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Hueytown AL is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the proper education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate those you are thinking about to ensure they will provide a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered along with cost and location. But before we talk about 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including Hueytown AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Hueytown AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Offered
There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is attainable 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 prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Hueytown AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often offered by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to ready students to advance 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. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely 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 eliminated and is no longer attainable in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Colleges Online
While not as common as the on campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Hueytown AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat lower than similar 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 ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
By now you probably have come to decision regarding several of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Hueytown AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you want to make certain that you enroll in the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 enroll in an online college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can research a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call a few Hueytown AL physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your school options. It may also be a good idea to contact 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 Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once 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 Hueytown AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you enroll in provides both excellent 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 therapy program. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Hueytown AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Hueytown healthcare community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk 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 therapy college they select will have to be within driving distance of their Hueytown AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT schools provide some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department and find out what type of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist college you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Hueytown AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Hueytown Physical Therapist School
Picking the ideal physical therapist program is a necessary initial decision you must make to launch a rewarding career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that many variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to different campuses to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Hueytown Alabama.