How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy College Near Trussville Alabama
Receiving a physical therapist degree near Trussville AL is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are looking at to make sure they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated along with cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists work in varying locations, including Trussville AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. Though 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 practice in close affiliation with other Trussville AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Available
There are three physical therapist degrees available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate 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 degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Trussville AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a component of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 three years to complete, making the total investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an intregal component along with the substantial lab and classroom 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 replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Schools
While not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Trussville AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be significantly lower than comparable on campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
By now you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding several of your initial questions, including the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Trussville AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to look into other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you need to make sure that you choose the school that is best for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Ask if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier stated, 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 college, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact some Trussville AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might 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 submitted against the colleges.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Trussville AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also affirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you enroll in provides both excellent training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are interested in have associations with Trussville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Trussville medical community and help with job placement once licensed.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Trussville AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT colleges offer some form of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department and find out what type of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist program you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Trussville AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask 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 Right Trussville Physical Therapy School
Picking the ideal physical therapy 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 decide on should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are additional critical questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that a number of variables will guide you to your final decision. You might decide to go to different schools to view their facilities and speak to 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 adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the right choice. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Trussville Alabama.