How to Find the Right Physical Therapist College Near Monroeville Alabama
Receiving a physical therapist degree near Monroeville AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are thinking about to make certain they will deliver a superior education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists practice 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 the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Monroeville AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Monroeville AL area:
- Associate Degrees train 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 be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by community or junior colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to complete and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required 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 3 years to complete, making the total commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an important element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in some 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. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Schools Online
Although not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Monroeville AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat less than similar on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding a few of your initial questions, like the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Monroeville AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to explore other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you want to make sure that you enroll in the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Find out if the programs you are considering have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online school, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with several Monroeville AL physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your program options. It might also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.
What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support 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 healthcare community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also affirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school 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 therapy college. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are evaluating have associations with Monroeville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Monroeville medical community and assist with job placement once licensed.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized 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 want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they select will need to be within travelling distance of their Monroeville AL residence. Those 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 concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may 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 live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Most DPT schools provide some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are considering have a financial assistance department and see what kind of help is available. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist program you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Monroeville AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Monroeville Physical Therapist School
Choosing the right physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you have to make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you choose should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are other important questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that a number of factors will lead you to your final decision. You might want to visit different colleges to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me realize 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 appropriate choice. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Monroeville Alabama.