How to Find the Right Physical Therapy School Near Moody Alabama
Receiving a physical therapist degree near Moody AL is an essential first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the appropriate education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are considering to ensure they will supply a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered along with cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, including Moody AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Moody AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Available
There are three physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to pursue 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 emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Moody AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to complete and usually 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal 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 taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Degrees Online
Although not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees available, 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 necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Moody AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
By now you most likely have made a decision concerning some of your initial questions, such as the type of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Moody AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to make sure that you pick the college that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Ask if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national 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 program, it may also receive 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 simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with several Moody AL physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your school selections. 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 useful statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Moody AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you enroll in provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have relationships with Moody AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Moody medical community and help with job placement after licensing.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Moody AL residence. Those who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly 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 Aid Offered? The majority of DPT colleges offer some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance department and see what type of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy program you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Moody AL area, check 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, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Moody Physical Therapy School
Deciding on the best physical therapy school is a necessary first decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you to your final decision. You might decide to visit each of the colleges to see their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed 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 necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Moody Alabama.