How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Pleasant Grove Alabama
Getting a physical therapy degree near Pleasant Grove AL is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are thinking about to ensure they will provide a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to cost and location. 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 is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists practice in varying locations, including Pleasant Grove AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Pleasant Grove AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering going 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 Therapist Degrees Available
There are three physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Pleasant Grove 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 programs are usually made available by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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 three years to complete, making the total commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential element in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment 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 replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer attainable in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Degrees Online
Although not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Pleasant Grove AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition might be significantly lower than comparable on campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
By now you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, like the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Pleasant Grove AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school options. Also, you want to make sure that you pick the school that is ideal 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 reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Ranking? 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 research a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Pleasant Grove AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your school selections. 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 submitted against the colleges.
What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, 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 Pleasant Grove AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment after graduation.
Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you enroll in furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria 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 college. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are interested in have partnerships with Pleasant Grove AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Pleasant Grove health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want 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 perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Pleasant Grove AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble 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 decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT colleges provide some type of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid office and find out what type of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy program you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Pleasant Grove AL area, make sure 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 enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Pleasant Grove Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the ideal physical therapy college is an important first decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the health care 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. However there are additional important questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that a number of factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to different colleges to view their facilities and talk to active 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 supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Pleasant Grove Alabama.