How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Moores Mill Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Moores Mill AL is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate those you are looking at to make sure they will provide a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, such as Moores Mill AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Moores Mill AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Moores Mill AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may 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 made available by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to complete and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want 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 3 years to finish, making the total commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in a number of 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 phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Online Schools
Although not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Moores Mill AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat lower than similar on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
At this point you most likely have come to decision concerning a few of your preliminary questions, including the type of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Moores Mill AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you want to make certain that you pick the program that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously stated, 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 can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact a few Moores Mill AL physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your school options. It might 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 Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Moores Mill AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even 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 Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you select furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are assessing have associations with Moores Mill AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Moores Mill medical community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Moores Mill AL residence. Students who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance department and see what kind of help is offered. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist program you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Moores Mill AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. 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 Right Moores Mill Physical Therapy School
Deciding on the ideal physical therapist school is an important initial decision you have to make to start a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are other important questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might want to visit each of the colleges to see their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Moores Mill Alabama.