Home >> Alabama >> Alabaster >> Physical Therapist Schools


Get Free Information on Physical Therapy Programs Alabaster AL 35007

How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy College Near Alabaster Alabama

Alabaster Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Alabaster AL is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are looking at to make certain they will provide a quality education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated besides 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 the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Alabaster Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Alabaster AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Alabaster AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather 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

Alabaster Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Alabaster AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to finish and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want 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 three years to complete, making the total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Alabaster Alabama woman taking physical therapist courses onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Alabaster AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat lower than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many 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 attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding a few of your initial questions, including the type of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Alabaster AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to research other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you pick the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier mentioned, 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 program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative 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 recognized accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with a few Alabaster AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your college options. It might also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Alabaster AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you select furnishes both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. 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 college. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have associations with Alabaster AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Alabaster medical community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Alabaster AL home. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance department and see what type of help is available. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist school you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Alabaster AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Alabaster Physical Therapist Schools

Enroll in the Best Alabaster Physical Therapy School

Selecting the right physical therapist college is an important first decision you must make to launch a gratifying career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select 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 begin your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that numerous factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit each of the schools to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me realize 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 options so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Alabaster Alabama.


 

Alabaster Physical Therapy Schools | Main | Alabaster Physical Therapy Degrees