How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist College Near Oneonta Alabama
Earning a physical therapist degree near Oneonta AL is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the proper training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are considering to ensure they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the closest 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 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Oneonta AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Oneonta AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
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 attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Oneonta AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may 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 degrees are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a component of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to prepare 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 initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to complete and commonly 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just 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 eliminated and is no longer offered in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Colleges Online
Although not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Oneonta AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition may be significantly lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
By now you most likely have made a decision regarding several of your initial questions, including the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Oneonta AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you need to be sure that you enroll in the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional 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 may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call a few Oneonta 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 options. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy colleges you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Oneonta AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even exceptional. It also confirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you choose provides both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have partnerships with Oneonta AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional connections in the Oneonta health care community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the typical 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 a chance to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Oneonta AL home. Those who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. 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 may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid office and see what type of assistance is available. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist program you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Oneonta AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Oneonta Physical Therapy School
Deciding on the ideal physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you need to make to launch a rewarding career in the healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that many factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit each of the colleges to view their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best choice. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Oneonta Alabama.