How to Choose a Physical Therapy School near Pine Bluff 71601
Earning a physical therapist degree near Pine Bluff AR is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the proper education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it’s important to evaluate the ones you are considering to make sure they will supply a quality education and comply with your state’s licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered along with location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we’ll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including Pine Bluff AR private practices, hospitals, 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 earlier mentioned, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Heart attacks.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Fire injuries.
- Knee Replacement.
- Cerebral Palsy.
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Pine Bluff AR health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more 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 quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Available
There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is attainable to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degree levels that are available in the Pine Bluff AR area:
- Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often provided by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the program.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prepare students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor’s degrees, they generally take four years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). After earning the bachelor’s degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in several 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. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master’s or in some cases a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Colleges
Although not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student’s Pine Bluff AR residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat lower than similar on campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
By now you probably have come to decision regarding some of your initial questions, including the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Pine Bluff AR area and across Arkansas, you’ll need to look into additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you want to be sure that you pick the program that is best for you. That’s the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are considering have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. 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 select an online college, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s essential that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the College’s Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it’s essential that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT college’s reputation, starting with requesting 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. Call several Pine Bluff AR physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your college options. It might also be a good idea to check with the Arkansas Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the Program’s Job Placement Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school’s job placement program, particularly in the Pine Bluff AR area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it’s an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It’s essential that the school you choose furnishes both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Arkansas or the state where you will be practicing. In each 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 amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are reviewing have partnerships with Pine Bluff AR clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Pine Bluff health care community and help with job placement once licensed.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the back of class 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 therapist colleges you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Pine Bluff AR residence. Those who have opted to attend classes online 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 generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don’t reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid department and see what type of assistance is obtainable. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy program you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Pine Bluff AR area, confirm 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 carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Earning Your Physical Therapy Degree near Pine Bluff Arkansas?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Pine Bluff AR area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.
Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Pine Bluff is the tenth-largest city in the state of Arkansas and the county seat of Jefferson County. It is the principal city of the Pine Bluff Metropolitan Statistical Area and part of the Little Rock-North Little Rock-Pine Bluff Combined Statistical Area. The population of the city was 49,083 in the 2010 Census with 2017 estimates showing a decline to 42,984.
The city is situated in the Southeast section of the Arkansas Delta and straddles the Arkansas Timberlands region to its west. Its topography is flat with wide expanses of farmland, consistent with other places in the Delta Lowlands. Pine Bluff has numerous creeks, streams, and bayous. (Bayou Bartholomew is the longest bayou in the world and is the second most-diverse stream in the United States). Large bodies of water include Lake Pine Bluff, Lake Langhofer (Slack Water Harbor), and the Arkansas River.
The area along the Arkansas River had been inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous peoples of various cultures. They used the river for transportation as did European settlers after them, and for fishing. By the time of encounter with Europeans, the historical Quapaw were the chief people in the area, having migrated from the Ohio River valley centuries before.
Select the Best Physical Therapist Degree Program near Pine Bluff AR
Deciding on the ideal physical therapy school is an important initial decision you have to make to begin a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college, keep in mind that a number of factors will lead you to your final decision. You may want to visit each of the campuses to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Pine Bluff AR.
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