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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy College Near Alexander City Alabama

Alexander City Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Alexander City AL is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are considering to ensure they will supply a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Alexander City Alabama physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, including Alexander City AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Alexander City AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather 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

Alexander City Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually provided by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare students to advance 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. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to complete and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program also must 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 commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in some states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer attainable in the USA. A number of licensed 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 Therapy Online Programs

Alexander City Alabama female student taking physical therapy courses onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online portion 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 a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning a few of your preliminary questions, such as the type of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Alexander City AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you pick the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. 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 choose an online school, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with several Alexander City AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your school options. It might also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Alexander City 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 even excellent. It also affirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you select provides both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have partnerships with Alexander City AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Alexander City medical community and help with job placement after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching what the typical student to teacher 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 a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Alexander City AL residence. Those who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid office and find out what kind of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Alexander City 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 enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Alexander City Online Physical Therapist Degrees

Choose the Best Alexander City Physical Therapy School

Selecting the best physical therapist school is an important first decision you must make to start a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to visit different campuses to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Alexander City Alabama.


 

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