How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Tuskegee Alabama
Receiving a physical therapist degree near Tuskegee AL is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are thinking about to ensure they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must 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 address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Tuskegee AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Tuskegee AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Tuskegee AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 complete, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an important element in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in some states for licensing also.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer offered in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Colleges
While not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Tuskegee AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be significantly less than similar on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
By now you probably have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary questions, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Tuskegee AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to explore additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to be sure that you enroll in the program that is ideal for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 choose an online program, it can also earn 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 just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can research a PT college'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 as well. Get in touch with some Tuskegee AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your college selections. It may also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Tuskegee AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the College Prepare You For 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 working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Tuskegee AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional connections in the Tuskegee medical community and help with job placement after licensing.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they select will need to be within travelling distance of their Tuskegee AL residence. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. 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 usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT colleges offer some type of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance department and see what type of assistance is available. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Tuskegee AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Tuskegee Physical Therapist School
Picking the right physical therapy school is a necessary first decision you must make to launch a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you decide on should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that many factors will guide you to your final decision. You may want to go to different campuses to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Tuskegee Alabama.