How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Oneonta Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Oneonta AL is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are considering to make certain they will furnish a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered along with cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Oneonta AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Oneonta AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Available
There are three physical therapy degree options available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Oneonta AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to ready students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to complete and usually include 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 complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not only 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 available in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Schools Online
Although not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Oneonta AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition can be significantly less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
By now you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding some of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Oneonta AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to look into other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Also, you want to make certain that you pick the school that is best for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously mentioned, 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 can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can research a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with several Oneonta AL physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your school selections. It might also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Oneonta AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you choose furnishes both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are reviewing have partnerships with Oneonta AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to receive practical training 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 form professional connections in the Oneonta health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy 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 ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Oneonta AL home. Students who have decided to attend online classes 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 keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid office and find out what type of aid is available. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist program you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Oneonta AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Oneonta Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the ideal physical therapy program is an important first decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might want to visit each of the campuses to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Oneonta Alabama.