How to Choose a Physical Therapist Degree Program near Bakersfield 93301
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Bakersfield CA is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many requiring 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 considering to make sure they will deliver a superior education and comply with your state’s licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered besides location and cost. But before we cover 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, including Bakersfield CA 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 experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Heart attacks.
- Sports injuries.
- Fire injuries.
- Hip Replacement.
- Cerebral Palsy.
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Bakersfield CA medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy field, 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 Therapy Degrees
There are three physical therapy degree options available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is attainable to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are offered in the Bakersfield CA area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or may 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 made available by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the course of study.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor’s degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor’s degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in several 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 available in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master’s or even a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Online Colleges
While not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student’s Bakersfield CA home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition might be significantly less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs 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 alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
At this point you probably have come to decision concerning some of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Bakersfield CA area and across California, you’ll need to explore other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you select the school that is ideal for you. That’s the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. 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 select an online college, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s important that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the College’s Ranking? Along with accreditation, it’s imperative that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT program’s reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact several Bakersfield CA physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your program options. It might also be prudent to contact the California Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the College’s Job Placement Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school’s job placement program, particularly in the Bakersfield CA area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it’s an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment after graduation.
Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It’s essential that the school you select furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for California 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 therapist program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are interested in have associations with Bakersfield CA hospitals or clinics 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 the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Bakersfield medical community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Bakersfield CA home. Those who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT schools provide some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial aid department and see what kind of help is obtainable. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Bakersfield CA area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Earning Your Physical Therapy Degree near Bakersfield California?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Bakersfield CA area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.
Bakersfield is a city and the county seat of Kern County, California, United States. It covers about 142 square miles (370 km2) near the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley and the Central Valley region. Bakersfield's population is approximately 380,000, making it the ninth-most populous city in California and the 52nd-most populous city in the nation. The Bakersfield–Delano Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Kern County, had a 2010 census population of 839,631, making it the 62nd largest metropolitan area in the United States. The more built-up urban area that includes Bakersfield and areas immediately around the city, such as East Bakersfield, Oildale and Rosedale, has a population of over 500,000. Bakersfield is a charter city.
The city is a significant hub for both agriculture and oil production. Kern County is the most productive oil-producing county, and the fourth most productive agricultural county (by value) in the United States. Industries include natural gas and other energy extraction, aerospace, mining, petroleum refining, manufacturing, distribution, food processing, and corporate regional offices. The city is also the birthplace of the country music genre known as the Bakersfield sound.
Archaeological evidence indicates the presence of Native American settlements dating back thousands of years. The Yokuts lived in lodges along the branches of the Kern River Delta and hunted antelope, tule elk, deer, bear, fish, and game birds. In 1776, Spanish missionary Father Francisco Garcés became the first European to explore the area. Owing to the remoteness and inaccessibility of the region, however, the Yokuts remained largely isolated until after the Mexican War of Independence, when Mexican settlers began to migrate to the area. Following the discovery of gold in California in 1848, settlers flooded into the San Joaquin Valley. In 1851, gold was discovered along the Kern River in the southern Sierra Nevada, and in 1865, oil was discovered in the valley. The Bakersfield area, once a tule-reed-covered marshland, was first known as Kern Island to the handful of pioneers who built log cabins there in 1860. The area was subject to periodic flooding from the Kern River, which occupied what is now the downtown area, and experienced outbreaks of malaria.
Enroll in the Ideal Physical Therapy School near Bakersfield CA
Picking the best physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you have to make to begin a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college, keep in mind that many factors will lead you to your final decision. You might want to visit each of the schools to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Bakersfield CA.
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