How to Select a Physical Therapist Degree Program near Portage 49002
Earning a physical therapist degree near Portage MI is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it’s important to research the ones you are looking at to ensure they will provide a superior education and satisfy your state’s licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we’ll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, including Portage MI hospitals, health clinics, 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 stated, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Burn injuries.
- Hip Replacement.
- Cerebral Palsy.
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Portage MI medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Available
There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is offered to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degrees that are available in the Portage MI area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor’s degrees, they typically require 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 3 years to finish, making the overall 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 completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in some states for licensing also.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master’s of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master’s or even a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Online Schools
Although not as common as the on-campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so 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 near the school campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student’s Portage MI home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be significantly less than similar on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
By now you most likely have come to decision regarding a few of your initial questions, including the kind of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Portage MI area and across Michigan, you’ll have to research additional qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college options. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you pick the college that is ideal for you. That’s the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Find out if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. 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 choose an online college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s important that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive 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 Standing? In addition to accreditation, it’s essential that the college and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT college’s reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call a few Portage MI physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your school options. It might also be prudent to check with the Michigan Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the School’s Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, 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 Portage MI area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it’s an indication 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 jobs upon graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It’s essential that the program you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Michigan or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Portage MI hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional connections in the Portage medical community and help with job placement once licensed.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges 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 final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they select will need to be within driving distance of their Portage MI residence. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial support to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and see what type of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Portage MI area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Earning Your Physical Therapy Degree near Portage Michigan?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Portage MI area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.
Portage is a city in Kalamazoo County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 46,292 in the 2010 census. It is the smaller of the two main cities included in the Kalamazoo-Portage Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of 326,589 as of 2010.
There are two public high schools in Portage, Portage Central and Portage Northern. The pharmaceutical company Pfizer also has manufacturing operations located there, which in recent years has caused much controversy due to layoffs. Stryker Corporation also has a large manufacturing presence in the city and is a worldwide leader in medical equipment, instruments and imaging technologies. Portage is also home to FEMA Corporation, a growing hydraulic valve manufacturing company.
Portage is known for its extensive network of historical parks and trails used for cycling, walking, canoeing, and other recreational activities. Since the creation of the Portage Bikeway system in 1989, the trails have expanded to over 50 miles (80 km), over five times as long as the city’s expressways. Portage is also home to the Kalamazoo Air Zoo.
Pick the Right Physical Therapist Training Program near Portage MI
Deciding on the best physical therapy school is an important first decision you must make to launch a rewarding career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist college, bear in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your final decision. You may want to visit each of the schools to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Portage MI.
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