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Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you most likely have made a decision concerning some of your initial questions, like the type of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Pelham AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school options. Moreover, you need to make sure that you enroll in the program that is best for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously stated, 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 may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT program'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 several Pelham AL physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college selections. It may 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 schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Pelham AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the Program 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 required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are reviewing have associations with Pelham AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Pelham health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for 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 classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. 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 College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Pelham AL residence. Those who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even 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 typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance department and find out what type of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist program you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Pelham AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

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