How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist School Near Wetumpka Alabama
Getting a physical therapist degree near Wetumpka AL is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate those you are thinking about to make sure they will supply a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. 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 the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered along with location and cost. But before we discuss 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists practice in varying locations, such as Wetumpka AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Wetumpka AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are three physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is available 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 progress to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Wetumpka AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take 4 years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not solely 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 phased out and is no longer offered in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Online Colleges
While not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees available, 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 necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Wetumpka AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition can be somewhat less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
By now you probably have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, like the type of physical therapy degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Wetumpka AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college options. Moreover, you need to be sure that you select the school that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Ask if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. 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 select an online college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing 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 Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact several Wetumpka AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any advice 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 School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy colleges you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Wetumpka AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you choose provides both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are assessing have partnerships with Wetumpka AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Wetumpka healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized 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 ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Wetumpka AL home. Those who have decided to attend classes online 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 keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Offered? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance department and see what kind of help is offered. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy program you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Wetumpka AL area, verify 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 need to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Wetumpka Physical Therapist School
Choosing the right physical therapist school is a necessary first decision you must make to begin a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are other critical questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to go to different campuses to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Wetumpka Alabama.