How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Jasper Alabama
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Jasper AL is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the necessary training and education. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will deliver a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. 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 practice in varying locations, such as Jasper AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Jasper AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is attainable 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 advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Jasper AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a portion of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a licensed practicing 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 commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an important component in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not only 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 available in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Online Programs
Although not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Jasper AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition may be significantly less than similar on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
At this point you probably have come to decision regarding a few of your initial queries, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Jasper AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you pick the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 enroll in an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with several Jasper AL physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your college options. It may also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Jasper AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you choose furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies 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 therapy program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have associations with Jasper AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Jasper healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they select will need to be within driving distance of their Jasper AL residence. Those who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep 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 have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT schools provide some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and see what type of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapy program you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Jasper AL area, check that they are available. 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 have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Jasper Physical Therapist School
Choosing the right physical therapy program is an important initial decision you must make to launch a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit each of the schools to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college 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 field so you can make the right choice. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Jasper Alabama.