How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Talladega Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Talladega AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate those you are looking at to ensure they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered besides 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 what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, including Talladega AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing 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 address the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Talladega AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, 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 available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is offered 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 readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Talladega AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually provided by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required in order to become a licensed practicing 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 overall commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just 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 eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Degrees Online
Although not as common as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Talladega AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition can be significantly less than comparable on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
At this point you most likely have come to decision concerning some of your initial questions, like the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Talladega AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college options. Also, you want to be sure that you select 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 reviewing. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Find out if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online school, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the School's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, starting 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 a few Talladega AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your program options. It may 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 schools.
What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Talladega AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you choose provides both exceptional 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 vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have associations with Talladega AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Talladega healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the average 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 talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Talladega AL home. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are considering have a financial assistance office and see what kind of assistance is available. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Talladega AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Talladega Physical Therapy School
Deciding on the ideal physical therapist program is an important first decision you must make to launch a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your final decision. You may decide to go to different schools to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Talladega Alabama.