How to Select the Right Physical Therapy College Near Talladega Alabama
Getting a physical therapy degree near Talladega AL is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the appropriate education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are considering to ensure they will provide a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered 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 practice in a variety of locations, including Talladega AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate 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
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Talladega AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Available
There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Talladega AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to finish and usually 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 also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the total commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential component in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in several states for licensing also.
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. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Degrees Online
While not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, 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 nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Talladega AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
At this point you most likely have come to decision concerning some of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapist degree you want to attain, 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 Talladega AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college options. Also, you need to be sure that you select the college that is best for you. That's why we have compiled a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Find out if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously 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 choose an online school, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting 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 Talladega AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your college selections. It may also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should 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 teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Talladega AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you select furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are assessing have associations with Talladega AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Talladega healthcare community and assist with job placement once licensed.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Talladega AL residence. Individuals who have opted 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 consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT colleges provide some type of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and find out what type of assistance is available. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist program you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Talladega AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Talladega Physical Therapy School
Selecting the best physical therapy school is an important first decision you have to make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you choose should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that numerous factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to each of the campuses to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Talladega Alabama.