How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist College near Fairhope Alabama
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Fairhope AL is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it’s necessary to investigate the ones you are looking at to make certain they will provide a quality education and meet your state’s licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated along with cost and location. But before we cover 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 is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Fairhope AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Fairhope AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
There are three physical therapist degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is offered to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degrees that are available in the Fairhope AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to practice as 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 programs are most often made available by community or junior colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the program.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to ready students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor’s degrees, they generally require 4 years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a practicing licensed 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 3 years to finish, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential component in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, 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 phased out and is no longer attainable in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master’s or in some cases a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Schools
While not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to 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. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student’s Fairhope AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be significantly less than similar on campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
By now you most likely have made a decision concerning a few of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Fairhope AL area and across Alabama, you’ll have to look into other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school options. Moreover, you need to make certain that you select the school that is right for you. That’s the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are considering have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier mentioned, 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 program, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s important that both the physical therapy school and program 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. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing 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 exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of 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 rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact some Fairhope AL physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your program selections. It might also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the College’s Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the school’s job placement program, particularly in the Fairhope AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It’s imperative that the college you select furnishes both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. 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 as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are interested in have associations with Fairhope AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Fairhope healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Fairhope AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically 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 Help Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some form of financial support to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and see what type of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist program you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Fairhope AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enrolling in a Physical Therapy Program near Fairhope Alabama?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Fairhope AL area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future campus.
Fairhope is a city in Baldwin County, Alabama, United States, on a sloping plateau, along the cliffs and shoreline of Mobile Bay. The 2010 census lists the population of the city as 15,326. Fairhope is a principal city of the Daphne-Fairhope-Foley micropolitan area, which includes all of Baldwin County. In 2016, Fairhope was named the best small town in the South by Southern Living magazine.
Fairhope was founded in November 1894 on the site of the former Alabama City as a radical Georgist "Single-Tax" colony by the Fairhope Industrial Association, a group of 28 followers of economist Henry George who had incorporated earlier that year in Des Moines, Iowa. Their corporate constitution explained their purpose in founding a new colony:
In forming their demonstration project, they pooled their funds to purchase land at "Stapleton's pasture" on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay and then divided it into a number of long-term leaseholds. The corporation paid all governmental taxes from rents paid by the lessees, thus simulating a single-tax. The purpose of the single-tax colony was to eliminate disincentives for productive use of land and thereby retain the value of land for the community.
Becoming A PTA Fairhope AL
Selecting the ideal physical therapist program is an important initial decision you must make to launch a gratifying career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional relevant questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice as well. You originally come to this website because of your interest in getting information on Becoming A PTA. However, as you begin your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that many factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to visit each of the colleges 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 practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Fairhope AL.
Additional Therapeutic Locations in Alabama
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