How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Monroeville Alabama
Receiving a physical therapist degree near Monroeville AL is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are considering to make certain they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Monroeville AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes 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 touched on, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Monroeville AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Offered
There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Monroeville AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually provided by community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a component of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in a number of 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 available in the USA. Some 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 Colleges Online
Although not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Monroeville AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition might be significantly less than comparable on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
At this point you probably have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Monroeville AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school options. Moreover, you want to make certain that you select the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 select an online college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact a few Monroeville AL physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your program options. It may also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Monroeville AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you select provides both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are interested in have relationships with Monroeville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Monroeville healthcare community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they select will have to be within driving distance of their Monroeville AL residence. Students who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. 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 might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT schools provide some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance office and see what kind of assistance is offered. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide 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 finally you must confirm that the physical therapist school you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Monroeville AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Monroeville Physical Therapy School
Selecting the best physical therapy school is an important first decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that many factors will lead you to your final decision. You may decide to visit each of the colleges to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me reach 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 options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Monroeville Alabama.