How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Millbrook Alabama
Getting a physical therapy degree near Millbrook AL is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are looking at to ensure they will furnish a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including Millbrook AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Millbrook AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short summaries of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Millbrook AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to ready students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required in order 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 3 years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal component along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely 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 United States. A number of 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 implemented.
Physical Therapist Online Schools
While not as common as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Millbrook AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
At this point you most likely have come to decision regarding some of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Millbrook AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Also, you want to make certain that you enroll in the school that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Find out if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 select an online college, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact a few Millbrook AL physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your college selections. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Millbrook AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you choose furnishes both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have associations with Millbrook AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Millbrook healthcare community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges 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 final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Millbrook AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online obviously 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 keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might 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 Help Offered? The majority of DPT schools provide some type of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance department and see what type of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy program you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Millbrook AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need 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 Right Millbrook Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the right physical therapist college is an important first decision you must make to begin a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that a number of factors will lead you to your final decision. You might decide to go to different campuses to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed 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 necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Millbrook Alabama.