How to Pick a Physical Therapist Degree Program near Arlington 36722
Earning a physical therapist degree near Arlington AL is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the necessary education and training. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it’s important to research those you are considering to ensure they will provide a superior education and meet your state’s licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we’ll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Arlington AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try 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.
- Multiple Sclerosis.
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Arlington AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Available
There are three physical therapist degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is offered 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 advance to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degree levels that are offered in the Arlington AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a component of the curriculum.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor’s degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 complete, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential element in addition to the substantial classroom and lab 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 taken the place of the Master’s of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master’s or in some cases a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Online Colleges
While not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more 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 school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student’s Arlington AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures 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 best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
At this point you most likely have come to decision regarding several of your initial questions, such as the type of physical therapy degree you would like to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Arlington AL area and across Alabama, you’ll have to look into other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Also, you need to make certain that you select the program that is best for you. That’s why we have collected a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Ask if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier 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 school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program’s Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it’s imperative that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT college’s reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact a few Arlington AL physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your program selections. It may 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 important statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school’s job placement program, particularly in the Arlington AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It’s imperative that the program you enroll in furnishes both exceptional 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 required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are reviewing have relationships with Arlington AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Arlington healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they select will need to be within travelling distance of their Arlington AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. 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 need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don’t reside within their districts.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Most DPT colleges provide some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and see what type of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist program you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Arlington AL area, make sure 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 have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Earning Your Physical Therapy Degree near Arlington Alabama?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Arlington AL area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.
Arlington County, Virginia
Arlington County is a county in the Commonwealth of Virginia, often referred to simply as Arlington or Arlington, Virginia. In 2016, the county's population was estimated at 230,050, making it the sixth-largest county in Virginia, or the fourth-largest city if it were incorporated as such. It is the 5th highest-income county in the U.S. by median family income, and has the highest concentration of singles in the region.
The county is coterminous with the U.S. Census Bureau's census-designated place of Arlington. Though a county, it is also treated as the second-largest principal city of the Washington metropolitan area.
The county is situated in Northern Virginia on the southwestern bank of the Potomac River directly across from Washington, D.C., of which it was once a part. With a land area of 26 square miles (67 km2), Arlington is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the U.S., and by reason of state law regarding population density, has no incorporated towns within its borders. Due to the county's proximity to downtown Washington, D.C., Arlington is home to many important installations for the capital region and U.S. government, including the Pentagon, Reagan National Airport, and Arlington National Cemetery. Many schools and universities have campuses in Arlington, most prominently the Antonin Scalia Law School of George Mason University.
Pick the Best Physical Therapist Degree Program near Arlington AL
Deciding on the ideal physical therapy program is an important initial decision you need to make to start a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you pick should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college, keep in mind that a number of factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to go to different schools to see their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Arlington AL.
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