How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Meridianville Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Meridianville AL is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to research those you are looking at to ensure they will provide a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered besides location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, such as Meridianville AL private practices, hospitals, 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 individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Meridianville AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite 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 Therapist Degree Options
There are three physical therapist degrees available for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Meridianville AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to finish and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program must also 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 the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in several 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 eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Colleges Online
While not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Meridianville AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures 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 alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
At this point you most likely have made a decision concerning some of your initial queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Meridianville AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to look into other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you choose the college that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Find out if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously 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 enroll in an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from 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 Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can research a PT program's reputation, beginning 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 organizations for their reviews as well. Call some Meridianville AL physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college options. 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 submitted against the colleges.
What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students left due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, 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 Meridianville AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you select furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are assessing have relationships with Meridianville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Meridianville healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Meridianville AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department and find out what kind of help is obtainable. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy program you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Meridianville AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Meridianville Physical Therapist School
Picking the right physical therapy school is an important first decision you must make to begin a gratifying career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you choose should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are additional important questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that a number of factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to different colleges to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me accomplish 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 right choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Meridianville Alabama.