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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Andalusia Alabama

Andalusia Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Andalusia AL is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled 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 need to obtain the proper education and training. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are looking at to make certain they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Andalusia Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, such as Andalusia AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Andalusia AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Andalusia Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options available for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate 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 target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Andalusia 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 qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often offered by community colleges, and take about 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 progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to 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 required in order to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in several 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 holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

Andalusia Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Andalusia AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be significantly less than comparable on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you most likely have made a decision concerning a few of your initial questions, including the kind of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Andalusia AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Moreover, you want to make certain that you pick the college that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional 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 choose an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent 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 select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with several Andalusia AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your school selections. It might also be prudent 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 School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Andalusia AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you select provides both exceptional 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 needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While 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 supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are reviewing have associations with Andalusia AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Andalusia health care community and help with job placement after licensing.

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

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Andalusia AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you decide 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 often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist college you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Andalusia AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Andalusia Physical Therapy Degrees

Enroll in the Right Andalusia Physical Therapist School

Picking the best physical therapy college is an important first decision you need to make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that many variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may want to go to each of the colleges to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me accomplish 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 selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Andalusia Alabama.


 

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