How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist College Near Oneonta Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Oneonta AL is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally 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 research the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will supply a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered besides location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists practice in varying settings, including Oneonta AL private practices, hospitals, 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 earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Oneonta AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Available
There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is attainable 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 readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Oneonta AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by community colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). 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 essential component in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in several 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 phased out and is no longer offered in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists having 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 Schools Online
While not as common as the on campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Oneonta AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
By now you probably have made a decision regarding some of your initial questions, 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 because there are so many PT colleges within the Oneonta AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to look into other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you want to be sure that you select the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier 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 college, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with several Oneonta AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your program options. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Oneonta AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you choose provides both excellent training and a curriculum that supports 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 therapist college. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are assessing have relationships with Oneonta AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Oneonta medical community and assist with job placement after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Oneonta AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically 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 supply some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are looking at have a financial aid office and find out what kind of aid is available. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist program you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Oneonta AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Oneonta Physical Therapy School
Choosing the ideal physical therapy school is a necessary first decision you have to make to begin a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are other important questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that many variables will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to visit each of the campuses to view their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me realize 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 right selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Oneonta Alabama.