How to Find the Right Physical Therapist College Near Ozark Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Ozark AL is an essential first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are considering to make certain they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated 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 is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, including Ozark AL private practices, hospitals, 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 touched on, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Ozark AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are three physical therapist degrees available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Ozark AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and usually 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential element in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced 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 in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Degrees Online
While not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Ozark AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar 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 best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
By now you probably have come to decision concerning a few of your initial queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Ozark AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to look into additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you want to make certain that you select the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Ask if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier mentioned, 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 program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact a few Ozark AL physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your program options. It may also be prudent 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 Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy colleges you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest 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 support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Ozark AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you choose provides both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing have partnerships with Ozark AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Ozark health care community and assist with job placement once licensed.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one 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 sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Ozark AL home. Students who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid department and find out what type of aid is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Ozark AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Ozark Physical Therapy School
Choosing the right physical therapist school is a necessary first decision you have to make to launch a gratifying career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are other important questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you toward your final decision. You might decide to go to each of the schools to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Ozark Alabama.