How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist College Near Pike Road Alabama
Receiving a physical therapist degree near Pike Road AL is an essential first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will supply a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, including Pike Road AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Pike Road AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Available
There are three physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Pike Road AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually provided by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to complete and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a licensed practicing 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 three years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in some states for licensing also.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer available in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Schools
While not as common as the more traditional options, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Pike Road AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition might be significantly less than similar on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
By now you most likely have come to decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, including the kind of physical therapist 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 because there are so many PT colleges within the Pike Road AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Moreover, you need to be sure that you choose the program that is best for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Find out if the programs you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 enroll in an online program, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact some Pike Road AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your school options. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Pike Road AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even exceptional. It also affirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment after graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you choose furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies 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. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have relationships with Pike Road AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Pike Road medical community and assist with job placement once licensed.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Pike Road AL home. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally 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 Assistance Offered? The majority of DPT colleges provide some type of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance department and see what type of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy school you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Pike Road AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Pike Road Physical Therapist School
Picking the right physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you need to make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that a number of variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to visit different colleges to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing 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 ideal selection. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Pike Road Alabama.