How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist School Near Trussville Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Trussville AL is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the proper education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will furnish a superior education and meet 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 the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, including Trussville AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Trussville AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Offered
There are three physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Trussville AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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 complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an intregal element in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only 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 available in the USA. A number of 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 implemented.
Physical Therapist Online Programs
Although not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are some 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 close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Trussville AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition may be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
By now you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning some of your preliminary questions, including the kind of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Trussville AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you choose the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together 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 before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are considering have received 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 enroll in an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact several Trussville AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your college selections. 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 submitted against the schools.
What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Trussville AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also affirms that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school 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 required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are interested in have partnerships with Trussville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Trussville medical community and assist with job placement once licensed.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist 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 converse with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Trussville AL home. Those who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly 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 Aid Offered? The majority of DPT schools provide some form of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department and see what kind of assistance is available. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Trussville AL area, confirm that they are offered. 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 need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Trussville Physical Therapist School
Picking the best physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are other important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you to your final decision. You may want to go to each of the schools to view their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Trussville Alabama.