How to Find the Right Physical Therapist College near Decatur Georgia
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Decatur GA is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it’s important to investigate those you are considering to make certain they will deliver 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 home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to 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 the options for education.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, including Decatur GA hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Decatur GA health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Available
There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is offered to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degree levels that are available in the Decatur GA area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the curriculum.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor’s degrees, they typically require four 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 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 3 years to complete, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential element along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely 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 attainable in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master’s or in some cases a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Colleges Online
While not as common as the on campus 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 necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student’s Decatur GA home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary questions, such as the kind of physical therapist 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 so many PT colleges within the Decatur GA area and throughout Georgia, you’ll have to research additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Moreover, you need to be sure that you choose the school that is best for you. That’s why we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously mentioned, 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 may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s important that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College’s Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it’s imperative that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT program’s reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact some Decatur GA physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your program options. It might also be prudent to contact the Georgia Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.
What is the School’s Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the college’s job placement program, particularly in the Decatur GA area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It’s imperative that the college you enroll in provides both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Georgia or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are reviewing have partnerships with Decatur GA clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Decatur medical community and assist with job placement once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at 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 final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy tech program also.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Decatur GA home. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. 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 may have 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 Assistance Offered? Most DPT schools provide some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial aid office and see what kind of assistance is available. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist college you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Decatur GA area, make certain 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 carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enrolling in a Physical Therapy Program near Decatur Georgia?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Decatur GA area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future campus.
Decatur is a city in, and the county seat of, DeKalb County, Georgia that is part of the Atlanta metropolitan area. With a population of 20,148 in the 2013 census, the municipality is sometimes assumed to be larger since multiple ZIP Codes in unincorporated DeKalb County bear the Decatur name. The city is served by three MARTA rail stations. The city is located approximately 5 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta and shares its western border with Atlanta.
Decatur was established at the intersection of two Native American trails: the Sandtown, which led east from the Chattahoochee River at Utoy Creek, and the Shallowford, which follows today's Clairmont Road, and eventually crossed near Roswell. It was named for United States Navy Commodore Stephen Decatur.
During the American Civil War, Decatur became a strategic site in Sherman's Atlanta Campaign. In July 1864, Major-General James McPherson occupied the town to cut off the Confederates' supply line from Augusta. On July 22, during the Battle of Atlanta, Confederate cavalry under Major-General Joseph Wheeler attacked McPherson's supply wagons and the Union troops left to defend the wagons. A historical marker at the old courthouse marks the site of this skirmish.
Physical Therapists Degree Decatur GA
Choosing the right physical therapy program is an important first decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are other important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. You originally come to this website because of your interest in getting information on Physical Therapists Degree. However, as you start your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that a number of factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might want to visit different colleges to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Decatur GA.
Additional Therapeutic Locations in Georgia
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