How to Select a Physical Therapist Training Program near Saginaw 35137
Getting a physical therapist degree near Saginaw AL is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the proper education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it’s important to evaluate those you are looking at to ensure they will supply a superior education and satisfy your state’s licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered besides 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists practice in varying locations, including Saginaw AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest.
- Sports injuries.
- Fire injuries.
- Hip Replacement.
- Cerebral Palsy.
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Saginaw AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are three physical therapist degree options available for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is available to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degree levels that are available in the Saginaw AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often made available by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the course of study.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to ready students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor’s degrees, they typically require 4 years to complete and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required if you want 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 three years to finish, making the overall commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in some 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 phased out and is no longer attainable in the USA. A number of practicing 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 Schools Online
While not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student’s Saginaw AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition may be significantly lower than comparable on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
At this point you probably have come to decision regarding several of your initial queries, including the type 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 because there are numerous PT schools within the Saginaw AL area and throughout Alabama, you’ll have to look into additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to make certain that you select the program that is best for you. That’s why we have compiled a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Find out if the schools you are looking at 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 enroll in an online college, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s important that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the School’s Reputation? Along with accreditation, it’s essential that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT program’s reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact some Saginaw AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your program options. It might also be prudent to check with the Alabama 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 two relevant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students left 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 Saginaw AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it’s an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It’s imperative that the school you choose 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 therapy school. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are interested in have partnerships with Saginaw AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Saginaw medical community and assist with job placement after licensing.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Saginaw AL home. Those who have chosen 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 concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose 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 commonly 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 Help Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of help is available. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy school you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Saginaw AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check 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 might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Earning Your Physical Therapy Degree near Saginaw Alabama?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Saginaw AL area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.
Saginaw is an unincorporated community 2.5 miles north of Calera in Shelby County, Alabama, United States with zip code 35137. It is part of the Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman Combined Statistical Area. It is located southeast of Alabaster on the east side of Interstate 65 at the intersection of State Route 70 and U.S. Route 31.
Saginaw is the home of the Saginaw Pipe Company, Inc., a major supplier of steel pipe, beams, tubing, and plate. The Dravo Lime Company quarry in Saginaw was honored for their outstanding safety record in the annual Sentinels of Safety awards program co-sponsored by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and the National Mining Association (NMA) in 1997 and 1999.
The U.S. Census bureau does not keep separate statistics for Saginaw. As of the census of 2000, for Block Group 2, Census Tract 306.09, Shelby County, Alabama, which is the census block group that includes the center of Saginaw, the total population was 1,684 people, with a racial makeup of 97.1% white, 2.2% black, and 0.7% mixed or other races.
Pick the Right Physical Therapist College near Saginaw AL
Picking the ideal physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you need to make to start a rewarding career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are additional important questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school, keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to each of the schools to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me realize 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 selection. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Saginaw AL.
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