How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Saks Alabama
Earning a physical therapy degree near Saks AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are looking at to make certain they will supply a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists work in varying settings, including Saks AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers 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 mentioned, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Saks AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about 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 prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
There are three physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Saks AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by community colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a component of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in several states for licensing also.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Online Programs
While not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy 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 necessitates 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 Saks AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than comparable on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
At this point you most likely have come to decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Saks AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you pick the college that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are considering have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with ensuring 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 College's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with several Saks AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your college options. It might also be prudent to contact 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 Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students dropped out because of displeasure 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 Saks AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you choose provides both excellent training and a curriculum that supports 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have associations with Saks AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner 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 may help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Saks medical community and assist with job placement once licensed.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching 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 ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they select will need to be within driving distance of their Saks AL residence. Those who have decided 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. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even 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 frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are considering have a financial aid office and find out what kind of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might 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, find out what financial aid might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy college you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Saks AL area, check 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 need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Saks Physical Therapy School
Selecting the right physical therapist school is a necessary first decision you need to make to start a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are other important questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your final decision. You may want to visit each of the schools to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Saks Alabama.