How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Meadowbrook Alabama
Earning a physical therapy degree near Meadowbrook AL is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the proper training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are thinking about to ensure they will provide a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we talk about 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Meadowbrook 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 earlier stated, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression 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
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Meadowbrook AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees
There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Meadowbrook AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to ready students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to complete and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in several states for licensing also.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Degrees Online
While not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Meadowbrook AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be somewhat less than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
By now you probably have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Meadowbrook AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you enroll in the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. 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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact several Meadowbrook AL physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your school selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
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 schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Meadowbrook AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you choose furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that supports 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have relationships with Meadowbrook AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Meadowbrook health care community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. 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 College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Meadowbrook AL residence. Those who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly 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 Assistance Offered? Most DPT schools provide some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid department and find out what kind of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist program you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Meadowbrook AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Meadowbrook Physical Therapist School
Picking the best physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you need to make to launch a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that many variables will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to go to different schools to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Meadowbrook Alabama.