How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy College Near Millbrook Alabama
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Millbrook AL is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the proper education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will supply a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we cover 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 is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Millbrook AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Millbrook AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is attainable 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 readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Millbrook AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by community or junior colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to complete and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also 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 the majority of cases. Clinical training is an intregal element along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, 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 eliminated and is no longer available in the United States. A number of licensed 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 Therapy Colleges Online
While not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, 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 close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Millbrook AL residence. Online programs are not only partially 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 a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning a few of your initial questions, including the type of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Millbrook AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you want to make sure that you select the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Find out if the schools you are looking at 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 may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential 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 rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Call a few Millbrook AL physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your program options. It may also be prudent 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 relevant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate 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 Millbrook AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you select furnishes both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have partnerships with Millbrook AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to receive hands on experience 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 develop professional connections in the Millbrook medical community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Millbrook AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something 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 need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Most DPT schools offer some form of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial aid office and see what type of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid may be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist school you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Millbrook AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Millbrook Physical Therapy School
Choosing the right physical therapist school is an important first decision you must make to launch a gratifying career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But 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 school bear in mind that numerous factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to different colleges to see 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 be able to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Millbrook Alabama.