How to Select the Right Physical Therapist College Near Prichard Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Prichard AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate those you are thinking about to make sure they will deliver a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered along with location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Prichard AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes 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 earlier mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Prichard AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Prichard AL area:
- Associate Degrees train 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 degrees are typically provided by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a portion of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to ready students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential element along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not solely 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 available in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Online Schools
While not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Prichard AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be somewhat less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
By now you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning some of your initial questions, including the type of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Prichard AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you choose the college that is best for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. 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 school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with a few Prichard AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer 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 see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Prichard AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the college has a large network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school 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 needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have associations with Prichard AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get practical training 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 students and graduates form professional relationships in the Prichard health care community and help with job placement after licensing.
What are the Class Sizes ? 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 small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Prichard AL residence. Those who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT schools provide some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance department and see what kind of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid may be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy college you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Prichard AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Prichard Physical Therapist School
Choosing the ideal physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you must make to begin a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you choose should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Prichard Alabama.