How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Lanett Alabama
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Lanett AL is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are considering to make certain they will furnish a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered in addition to 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's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in varying settings, including Lanett AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Lanett AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
There are three physical therapist degree options available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Lanett AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by junior or community colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required 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 complete, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in a number of 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 United States. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Programs Online
While not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are many 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 combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Lanett 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 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 alternative the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
By now you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding several of your preliminary questions, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Lanett AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to look into additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you choose the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. 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 choose an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might 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 important that the school and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with a few Lanett AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your program selections. 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 submitted against the schools.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Lanett AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the college has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing have partnerships with Lanett AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Lanett healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the average 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 a chance 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 number of students, the physical therapist college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Lanett AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some type of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid office and find out what kind of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer 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 finally you must confirm that the physical therapist school you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Lanett AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Lanett Physical Therapist School
Selecting the ideal physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you must make to begin a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are other important questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your final decision. You may want to visit different campuses to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college 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 field so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Lanett Alabama.