How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Mountain Brook Alabama
Earning a physical therapist degree near Mountain Brook AL is an essential first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are thinking about to make certain they will provide a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to 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 the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists work in varying locations, including Mountain Brook AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Mountain Brook AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of 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 Therapy Degrees Offered
There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate 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 concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Mountain Brook AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically provided by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to ready students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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 3 years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in a number of 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 USA. A number of licensed 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 Schools Online
While not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees available, even more 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 college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Mountain Brook AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
At this point you most likely have come to decision regarding some of your initial queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Mountain Brook AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to be sure that you choose the college that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier 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 college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Mountain Brook AL physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your school selections. 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 schools.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy colleges you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Mountain Brook AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you enroll in furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have associations with Mountain Brook AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Mountain Brook medical community and help with job placement once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer 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 students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they select will need to be within driving distance of their Mountain Brook 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 area internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT schools offer some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of help is obtainable. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist school you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Mountain Brook AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Mountain Brook Physical Therapist School
Selecting the right physical therapy program is a necessary initial decision you have to make to start a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are other critical questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your final decision. You may want to go to different campuses to see their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me achieve 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 field so you can make the best selection. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Mountain Brook Alabama.