How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Jasper Alabama
Receiving a physical therapist degree near Jasper AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate the ones you are looking at to ensure they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered along with location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in varying settings, such as Jasper AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Jasper AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Available
There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Jasper AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or may 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 programs are typically provided by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to finish and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program must also 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 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.
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. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Colleges Online
Although not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Jasper AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
By now you probably have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Jasper AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to research additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you want to be sure that you pick the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Ask if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier stated, 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 college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the College's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT school'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. Call some Jasper AL physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your college options. It may also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Jasper AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or employment after graduation.
Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you enroll in 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 required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have partnerships with Jasper AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates develop professional connections in the Jasper medical community and assist with job placement after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes permit 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 prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Jasper AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep 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 may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance may be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist program you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Jasper 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 courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out 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 Therapy School
Deciding on the ideal physical therapy program is an important first decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that many variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit different schools to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Jasper Alabama.