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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Albertville Alabama

Albertville Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Albertville AL is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the proper education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate the ones you are looking at to make certain they will furnish a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Albertville Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, including Albertville AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Albertville AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Albertville Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as 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. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Albertville AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically provided by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 finish, making the overall commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element in addition to the substantial lab and classroom 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 taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Albertville Alabama woman taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more 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 school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Albertville AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition can be significantly less than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding several of your initial questions, including the type of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Albertville AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school options. Moreover, you want to make certain that you enroll in the program that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier stated, 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 obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can research a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with several Albertville AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your program options. It may also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Albertville AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the college has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you choose provides both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with 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 amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are assessing have partnerships with Albertville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Albertville medical community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Albertville AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online 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 consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even 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 typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and find out what type of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible 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, find out what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy program you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Albertville AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Albertville Physical Therapist Degrees

Choose the Right Albertville Physical Therapy School

Choosing the best physical therapy program is an important first decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that many factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Albertville Alabama.


 

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