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

Alexander City Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Alexander City AL is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are looking at to make sure they will deliver a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we discuss 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Alexander City Alabama physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, such as Alexander City AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Alexander City AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Alexander City Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Alexander City AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by junior or community colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four 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 also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an important element along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Colleges

Alexander City Alabama woman taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online part of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Alexander City AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition may be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding some of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Alexander City AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you choose the college that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously mentioned, 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 school, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can investigate 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 organizations for their reviews as well. Call a few Alexander City AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your school selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two useful statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Alexander City AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you choose provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have relationships with Alexander City AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Alexander City medical community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

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

Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of assistance is offered. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Alexander City AL area, verify 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 procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Alexander City Online Physical Therapy Majors

Choose the Best Alexander City Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the right physical therapy school is an important first decision you must make to begin a rewarding career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are additional important questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that a number of factors will guide you toward your final decision. You might decide to go to different colleges to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Alexander City Alabama.


 

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