How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist College near Spearfish South Dakota
Receiving a physical therapist degree near Spearfish SD is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it’s essential to investigate the ones you are considering to ensure they will provide a quality education and meet your state’s licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we’ll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Spearfish SD hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes 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 individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to 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 endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Spearfish SD medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Offered
There are three physical therapist degree options offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is available to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered in the Spearfish SD area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the program.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor’s degrees, they typically require 4 years to complete and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also 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 total investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential element in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in a number of 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 available in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists having a master’s or in some cases a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Schools
While not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student’s Spearfish SD home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than comparable on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
By now you most likely have made a decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, like the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Spearfish SD area and across South Dakota, you’ll have to research additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you select the program that is right for you. That’s the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Find out if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national 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 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 choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify 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 required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the School’s Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it’s important that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can research a PT school’s reputation, starting with requesting 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 as well. Contact some Spearfish SD physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your college options. It might also be a good idea to contact the South Dakota 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 Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the college’s job placement program, particularly in the Spearfish SD area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the college has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It’s essential that the college you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for South Dakota 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 school. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are evaluating have relationships with Spearfish SD hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Spearfish healthcare 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 rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Spearfish SD residence. Those who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT colleges offer some form of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance department and see what type of assistance is available. They at least should help in acquiring 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 beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Spearfish SD area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Enrolling in a Physical Therapy Program near Spearfish South Dakota?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Spearfish SD area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future campus.
Spearfish, South Dakota
Before the Black Hills Gold Rush of 1876, the area was used by Native Americans (primarily bands of Sioux but others also ranged through the area). Once the gold rush started, the city was founded in 1876 at the mouth of Spearfish Canyon, and was originally called Queen City. Spearfish grew as a supplier of foodstuffs to the mining camps in the hills. Even today, a significant amount of truck farming and market gardening still occurs in the vicinity.
In 1887, the accepted history of gold mining in the Black Hills was thrown into question by the discovery of what has become known as the Thoen Stone. Discovered by Louis Thoen on the slopes of Lookout Mountain, the stone purports to be the last testament of Ezra Kind who, along with six others, entered the Black Hills in 1833 (at a time when whites were forbidden by law and treaty from entering the area), "got all the gold we could carry" in June 1834, and were subsequently "killed by Indians beyond the high hill." While it may seem unlikely that someone who has "lost my gun and nothing to eat and Indians hunting me" would take the time to carve his story in sandstone, there is corroborating historical evidence for the Ezra Kind party.
In the 20th century, the history of Spearfish was tied very closely to mining and tourism. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who visited Spearfish Canyon in 1935, later called the area "unique and unparalleled elsewhere in our country," and wondered, "How is it that I've heard so little of this miracle and we, toward the Atlantic, have heard so much of the Grand Canyon when this is even more miraculous?"
Physical Therapy Assistant Accredited Schools Spearfish SD
Selecting the right physical therapy college is a necessary first decision you need to make to start a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. You originally come to this website because of your interest in getting information on Physical Therapy Assistant Accredited Schools. However, as you begin your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that many variables will guide you to your final decision. You might want to go to each of the colleges to view their facilities and speak with current 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 options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Spearfish SD.
Additional Therapeutic Locations in South Dakota