How to Find the Right Physical Therapy College Near Madison Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Madison AL is an essential first step to starting a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the necessary education and training. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are considering to make sure they will supply a quality education and meet 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 the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists work in varying settings, including Madison AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Madison AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Available
There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as 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 degrees that are available to prospective students in the Madison AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by junior or community colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a licensed practicing 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 finish, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal element along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in a number of 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 phased out and is no longer attainable in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Schools Online
Although not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Madison AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition might be significantly lower than comparable on campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
At this point you probably have made a decision regarding several of your preliminary questions, including the type of physical therapist degree you intend to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Madison AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to look into other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Also, you need to be sure that you select the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Ask if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional 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 select an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.
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 community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Call a few Madison AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your school options. It might 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 schools.
What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Madison AL area? If a program has a higher 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 school has a wide network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you select furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have associations with Madison AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Madison healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Madison AL home. Those who have opted to attend online classes obviously 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 bear 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 may need 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 Aid Offered? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid office and find out what kind of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance may be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy program you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Madison AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Madison Physical Therapy School
Picking the ideal physical therapist school is an important initial decision you have to make to begin a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you pick should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you toward your final decision. You might want to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Madison Alabama.