How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist School Near Montevallo Alabama
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Montevallo AL is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the proper education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are considering to ensure they will provide a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in varying locations, such as Montevallo AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share 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 frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Montevallo AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often 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 3 physical therapist degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Montevallo AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and usually incorporate 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). In addition to 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 component along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in some states for licensing also.
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 attainable in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Online Programs
Although not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online portion of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Montevallo AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat lower than similar on campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
At this point you probably have come to decision concerning a few of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Montevallo AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to research other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college options. Also, you want to make sure that you choose the college that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Ask if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier 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 program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for 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. Get in touch with several Montevallo AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your program selections. It may 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 colleges.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once 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 Montevallo AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even exceptional. It also affirms that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you select provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria 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 therapist school. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are interested in have partnerships with Montevallo AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Montevallo healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools 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 decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Montevallo AL home. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program 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 often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT colleges offer some type of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial aid office and find out what type of assistance is available. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy college you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Montevallo AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Montevallo Physical Therapy School
Deciding on the ideal physical therapist program is a necessary first decision you have to make to start a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are other important questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me accomplish 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 ideal selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Montevallo Alabama.