How to Find the Right Physical Therapy School near Westerly 02891
Getting a physical therapy degree near Westerly RI is an essential first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it’s essential to investigate the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will provide a quality education and satisfy your state’s licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we’ll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, such as Westerly RI private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Heart attacks.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Burn injuries.
- Knee Replacement.
- Cerebral Palsy.
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Westerly RI medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees
There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is offered to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degree levels that are offered in the Westerly RI area:
- Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually provided by junior or community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the curriculum.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor’s degrees, they generally require 4 years to finish and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a licensed practicing 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. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master’s of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master’s or in some cases a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Online Programs
While not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student’s Westerly RI residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat less than comparable on campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
By now you probably have made a decision concerning some of your initial questions, like the kind of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Westerly RI area and throughout Rhode Island, you’ll have to explore additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you select the program that is right for you. That’s why we have compiled a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Find out if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously mentioned, 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 program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides ensuring 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 College’s Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it’s important that the school and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can look into a PT college’s reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call a few Westerly RI physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your college options. It might also be prudent to contact the Rhode Island 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 Rate? There are a two important statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the college’s job placement program, particularly in the Westerly RI area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It’s important that the school you choose provides both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Rhode Island or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing have associations with Westerly RI clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Westerly health care community and help with job placement after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program also.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Westerly RI residence. Those who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need 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 live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? The majority of DPT schools offer some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are examining 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 might 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 assistance might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapist college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Westerly RI area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Earning Your Physical Therapy Degree near Westerly Rhode Island?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Westerly RI area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.
Westerly, Rhode Island
Westerly is a town on the southwestern shoreline of Washington County, Rhode Island, first settled by English colonists in 1661 and incorporated as a municipality in 1669. It is a beachfront community on the south shore of the state with a population of 22,787 as of the 2010 census.
The Pawcatuck River flows on the western border of Westerly and was once renowned for its own species of Westerly salmon, three of which are on the town's official seal. The river flows from some 15 miles (24 km) inland, emptying into Little Narragansett Bay. It also serves as the boundary between Westerly and Pawcatuck, Connecticut. Three large salt ponds lie along the coast of Westerly which serve as shallow, reef-like pools whose outer walls form the long, white beaches for which the town became renowned. From west to east, these ponds are called Maschaug Pond, Winnapaug Pond, and Quonochontaug Pond.
A type of granite known as Westerly granite has long been quarried here. Westerly granite is ideal for statuary and has been used in numerous government buildings of several states along the eastern seaboard. The Westerly area was known for its granite and stone-cutting industry.
Enroll in the Best Physical Therapist School near Westerly RI
Choosing the ideal physical therapy school is an important first decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you choose should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist school, bear in mind that many variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may want to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Westerly RI.
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