How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Monroeville Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Monroeville AL is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the appropriate training and education. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are looking at to make certain they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Monroeville AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Monroeville AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are three physical therapist degrees offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Monroeville AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as 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 a requirement in order to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program also must 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 total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an intregal element along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer attainable in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Degrees Online
Although not as common as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Monroeville AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be significantly less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
By now you most likely have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Monroeville AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school options. Also, you want to be sure that you enroll in the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national 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 select an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call a few Monroeville AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice 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 filed against the schools.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy schools you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the college'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 medical care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the college has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you choose provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are reviewing have partnerships with Monroeville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Monroeville health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Monroeville AL residence. Those who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble 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 program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are considering have a financial assistance department and find out what type of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Monroeville AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Monroeville Physical Therapy School
Picking the ideal physical therapist college is an important initial decision you have to make to start a rewarding 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 outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional important questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that a number of variables will guide you toward your final decision. You may decide to visit each of the colleges to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing 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 training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Monroeville Alabama.