How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Monroeville Alabama
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Monroeville AL is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are considering to make sure they will furnish a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. 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 relevant qualifications that must be considered along with cost and location. 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's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in varying locations, such as Monroeville AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Monroeville AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Available
There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Monroeville AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to complete and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a practicing licensed 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 three years to complete, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an important component along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in some states for licensing also.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Schools Online
While not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, 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 requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Monroeville AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning a few of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Monroeville AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Also, you need to be sure that you enroll in the school that is best for you. That's why we have compiled a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Find out if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online program, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the College's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. 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 can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Monroeville AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your college options. It might also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy colleges you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Monroeville AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even exceptional. It also confirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you choose provides both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are reviewing have relationships with Monroeville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Monroeville healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Monroeville AL home. Students who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT colleges offer some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid office and see what type of assistance is available. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Monroeville AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Monroeville Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the best physical therapy program is a necessary first decision you must make to begin a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are additional relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that many variables will lead you to your final decision. You may decide to visit each of the colleges to view their facilities and speak to 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 have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the best choice. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Monroeville Alabama.