Home >> Alabama >> Alexander City >> Physical Therapist Degrees


Request Free Info on Physical Therapist Degree Programs Alexander City AL 35010

How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Alexander City Alabama

Alexander City Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Alexander City AL is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Alexander City Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying locations, including Alexander City AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Alexander City AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Alexander City Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, 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 preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Alexander City AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by community colleges, and require two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to finish and usually 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an important element in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment 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. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Degrees

Alexander City Alabama female student taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs available, more so at the graduate level. Due to 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 an available internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Alexander City AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition might be significantly less than similar on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding several of your preliminary queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, 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 Alexander City AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to look into additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Moreover, you need to make sure that you choose the school that is right for you. That's why we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 select an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can research a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting 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 as well. Call a few Alexander City AL physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your college options. 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 Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapist programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Alexander City AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you choose provides both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are evaluating have associations with Alexander City AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Alexander City health care community and assist with job placement once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Alexander City AL home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? The majority of DPT colleges provide some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and see what type of help is available. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer 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 last you must verify that the physical therapist college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Alexander City AL area, check 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 have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Alexander City Physical Therapy Training

Choose the Best Alexander City Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the ideal physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you must make to launch a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that many variables will lead you to your final decision. You may want to go to different schools to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Alexander City Alabama.


 

Alexander City Physical Therapy Degrees | Main | Alexander City Physical Therapy Major Programs