Home >> Alabama >> Alabaster >> Physical Therapy Degrees


Request Free Info on Physical Therapist Programs Alabaster AL 35007

How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Alabaster Alabama

Alabaster Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Alabaster AL is an essential first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are looking at to ensure they will deliver a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we discuss 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Alabaster Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Alabaster AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Alabaster AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee 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 going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Alabaster Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Alabaster AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by community or junior colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to ready students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to complete and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order 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 total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only 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 eliminated and is no longer available in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

Alabaster Alabama woman taking physical therapy courses onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships 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 Alabaster AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition may 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, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Alabaster AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to explore additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school options. Also, you need to make sure that you select the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree 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 imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact several Alabaster AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your program selections. It may also be a good idea to contact the Alabama 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 couple of important statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Alabaster AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or even exceptional. It also affirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you choose provides both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have associations with Alabaster AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Alabaster healthcare community and assist with job placement once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Alabaster AL home. Students who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear 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 generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Most DPT schools offer some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department and see what type of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist school you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Alabaster AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask 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 Therapy Training

Choose the Right Alabaster Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the right physical therapy program is a necessary initial decision you have to make to start a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you pick should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that many factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit each of the colleges to see their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Alabaster Alabama.


 

Alabaster Physical Therapist Schools | Main | Alabaster Physical Therapist Degrees