How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Selma Alabama
Getting a physical therapist degree near Selma AL is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are looking at to ensure they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable 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 cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Selma AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try 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
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Selma AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Selma 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. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually made available by community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required 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 commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential element in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, 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 eliminated and is no longer available in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists holding 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 Online Degrees
Although not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Selma AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding several of your initial questions, such as the type of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Selma AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to research additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to make certain that you enroll in the program that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools 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 schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier 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 essential that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Call several Selma AL physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your school options. It might 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 School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students left due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Selma AL area? If a program has a higher 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 help students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you enroll in provides both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. 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 school. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have associations with Selma AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Selma health care community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Selma AL home. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose 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 usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial support to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid office and see what kind of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy school you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Selma AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out 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 illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Selma Physical Therapist School
Picking the ideal physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you must make to start a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your final decision. You might want to visit different campuses to view their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Selma Alabama.