How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Tuskegee Alabama
Earning a physical therapy degree near Tuskegee AL is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are looking at to make certain they will provide a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we cover 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 diverse settings, including Tuskegee AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Tuskegee AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
There are three physical therapist degree options offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Tuskegee AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also 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 finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only 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 eliminated and is no longer attainable in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Colleges Online
Although not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Due to 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 an available internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum 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 cases more economical. Tuition may be significantly lower than comparable on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
At this point you probably have come to decision concerning several of your preliminary questions, including the type of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Tuskegee AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to look into other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Moreover, you want to make certain that you pick the college that is right for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Find out if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional 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 choose an online college, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you choose 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 might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can research a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with a few Tuskegee 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 advice about your school options. It may also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Tuskegee AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the school has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you choose 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 therapy school. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have associations with Tuskegee AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Tuskegee health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one 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 determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Tuskegee AL home. Those who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are looking at have a financial aid office and find out what kind of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid may be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist program you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Tuskegee AL area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Tuskegee Physical Therapist School
Choosing the best physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you must make to launch a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that many variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit each of the schools to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Tuskegee Alabama.