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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist School Near Andalusia Alabama

Andalusia Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Andalusia AL is an essential first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled 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 acquire the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are considering to ensure they will deliver a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Andalusia Alabama physical therapist assisting woman 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 are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Andalusia AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Andalusia Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees available for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is offered 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 preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Andalusia AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in some 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 phased out and is no longer available in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Schools Online

Andalusia Alabama female student taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Andalusia AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning some of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you intend to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Andalusia AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to look into other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Moreover, you need to make sure that you choose the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. 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 program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with some 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 insight about your school options. 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 Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Andalusia AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the school 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 program you select furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are interested in have relationships with Andalusia AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Andalusia healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they select will need to be within travelling distance of their Andalusia AL residence. Those who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry 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 college 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 usually charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department and find out what type of help is available. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist program you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Andalusia AL area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. 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 Andalusia Online Physical Therapist Programs

Enroll in the Right Andalusia Physical Therapist School

Picking the right physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you must make to begin a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you select should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other relevant questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that many variables will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to different campuses to see their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the best selection. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Andalusia Alabama.


 

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