How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy College Near Tuskegee Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Tuskegee AL is an essential first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. 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 work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are looking at to ensure they will supply a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is choose a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, 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 settings, including Tuskegee AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Tuskegee AL health specialists, 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 thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Offered
There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Tuskegee AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a component of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in a number of 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 eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Online Programs
While not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Tuskegee AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be significantly lower than similar on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
By now you most likely have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, like the type of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Tuskegee AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to research other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you pick the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 college, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting 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 as well. Get in touch with several Tuskegee AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your college selections. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean 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 help 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 healthcare community is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you choose provides both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have associations with Tuskegee AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Tuskegee health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Tuskegee AL residence. Those who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid department and find out what kind of help is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy program you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. 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, verify 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 may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Tuskegee Physical Therapy School
Choosing the ideal physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you need to make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that a number of variables will guide you to your final decision. You might decide to go to different schools to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the right selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Tuskegee Alabama.