How to Choose a Physical Therapist Program near Chicago 60601
Getting a physical therapy degree near Chicago IL is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it’s essential to evaluate the ones you are considering to make certain they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state’s licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we’ll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist’s Job Description?
Physical therapists work in varying settings, such as Chicago IL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries.
- Cardiac arrest.
- Sports injuries.
- Burn injuries.
- Knee Replacement.
- Multiple Sclerosis.
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Chicago IL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees
There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is available to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degree levels that are available in the Chicago IL 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 obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor’s degrees, they generally require 4 years to complete and commonly 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 also must 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 overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an important element along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in some 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. Some practicing physical therapists having a master’s or even a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Programs Online
While not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student’s Chicago IL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat lower than similar on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
At this point you most likely have come to decision regarding several of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Chicago IL area and throughout Illinois, you’ll need to look into additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you enroll in the program that is ideal for you. That’s why we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Find out if the programs you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate 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 obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the School’s Standing? Along with accreditation, it’s essential that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT program’s reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call several Chicago IL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your program options. It might also be a good idea to check with the Illinois Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the School’s Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapist programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the school’s job placement program, particularly in the Chicago IL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it’s an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It’s essential that the college you select provides both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Illinois or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are interested in have associations with Chicago IL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Chicago medical community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist tech program also.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they select will have to be within driving distance of their Chicago IL residence. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider 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 generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT colleges provide some form of financial support to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial aid department and find out what kind of help is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you finally choose can furnish 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 Chicago IL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Earning Your Physical Therapy Degree near Chicago Illinois?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Chicago IL area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.
Chicago (/ʃɪˈkɑːɡoʊ/ ( listen), locally also /-ˈkɔː-/), officially the City of Chicago, on Lake Michigan in Illinois, is one of the largest cities in the United States. As of the 2017 census-estimated population of 2,716,450, Chicago is the third most populous city in the United States after New York and Los Angeles, and the most populous city in both the state of Illinois and the Midwestern United States. It is the county seat of Cook County. Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as "Chicagoland." The Chicago metropolitan area has nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States of America, fourth largest in North America, and the third largest in the world by urban landmass. The city is also the birthplace of the skyscraper, and considered the most influential architectural city of the 20th century. Chicago saw the creation of the first standardized futures contracts at the Chicago Board of Trade; today its successor has evolved into the largest and most diverse derivatives market in the world, generating 20% of all volume in commodities and financial futures.
Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1837 near a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed and grew rapidly in the mid-nineteenth century. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which destroyed several square miles and left more than 100,000 homeless, the city made a concerted effort to rebuild. The construction boom accelerated population growth throughout the following decades, and by 1900 Chicago was one of the five largest cities in the world. During this period, Chicago made noted contributions to urban planning and zoning standards, which included creating new construction styles (including the Chicago School of architecture), the development of the City Beautiful Movement, and the steel-framed skyscraper.
Positioned along Lake Michigan, the city is an international hub for finance, commerce, industry, technology, telecommunications, and transportation. O'Hare International Airport is the one of the busiest airports in the world, and the region also has the largest number of U.S. highways and railroad freight. In 2012, Chicago was listed as an alpha global city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network, and it ranked seventh in the entire world in the 2017 Global Cities Index. Chicago has the fourth-largest gross metropolitan product in the world—about $670.5 billion according to September 2017 estimates—ranking it after the metropolitan areas of Tokyo, New York City, and Los Angeles, and ranking ahead of London and Paris. The city has one of the world's largest and most diversified and balanced economies not dependent on any one industry, with no single industry employing more than 14% of the workforce.
Select the Right Physical Therapy School near Chicago IL
Picking the ideal physical therapist program is an important first decision you have to make to start a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist program, keep in mind that many variables will lead you toward your final decision. You may decide to go to different campuses to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Chicago IL.
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