How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Jasper Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Jasper AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, including Jasper AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Jasper AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are three physical therapist degree options offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Jasper AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by community or junior colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Online Programs
Although not as common as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Jasper AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
By now you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding some of your initial questions, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Jasper AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to look into other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, 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 must ask the physical therapist schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier 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 choose an online college, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call several Jasper AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your program selections. It might also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see 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 need to find out about all of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate 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 support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Jasper AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you enroll in provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are reviewing have associations with Jasper AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Jasper health care community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Jasper AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some type of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance department and see what kind of assistance is offered. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, find out 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 pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Jasper AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Jasper Physical Therapy School
Deciding on the best physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you must make to begin a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that many factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may want to visit each of the schools to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Jasper Alabama.