How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy College Near Pell City Alabama
Earning a physical therapist degree near Pell City AL is an important first step to starting a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the proper training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate those you are considering to ensure they will furnish a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. 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 practice in a variety of settings, including Pell City AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Pell City AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Available
There are three physical therapy degree options available for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is offered 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 preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Pell City AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically provided by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prep candidates 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. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required in order to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an important component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not only 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 attainable in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Degrees
While not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Pell City AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat less than comparable on-campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
By now you most likely have come to decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Pell City AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to look into other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you choose the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Find out if the programs you are considering have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier 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 college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact several Pell City AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your school options. It may also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.
What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Pell City AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even exceptional. It also affirms that the school has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you enroll in provides both excellent training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are assessing have relationships with Pell City AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Pell City health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Pell City 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 local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically 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. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid department and see what type of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapy schools provide 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 School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Pell City AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify 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 may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Pell City Physical Therapy School
Picking the ideal physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you need to make to launch a rewarding career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that many factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might want to visit different campuses to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Pell City Alabama.