How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Roanoke Alabama
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Roanoke AL is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the proper education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are thinking about to make sure they will deliver a quality education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists work in diverse locations, including Roanoke 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 diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Roanoke AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Available
There are three physical therapist degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Roanoke AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often offered by 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 developed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in some 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 phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Colleges Online
Although not as common as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure 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 a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Roanoke AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be somewhat lower than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
At this point you probably have come to decision regarding a few of your initial questions, including the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Roanoke AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Moreover, you need to make sure that you enroll in the college that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of important 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 School Accredited? Ask if the programs you are considering have earned accreditation from a national or a regional 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 earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact some Roanoke AL physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your college selections. It might also be prudent 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 Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students left 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 Roanoke AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you select furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are reviewing have partnerships with Roanoke AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Roanoke healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering what the average teacher to student 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 an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Roanoke AL home. Those who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. 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 usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Support Offered? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid department and find out what kind of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy school you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Roanoke AL area, check that they are available. 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 need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Roanoke Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the right physical therapy program is a necessary initial decision you have to make to begin a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that numerous factors will guide you toward your final decision. You may want to go to different campuses to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Roanoke Alabama.