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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Anniston Alabama

Anniston Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Anniston AL is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the proper training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will deliver a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we discuss 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?

Anniston Alabama DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Anniston 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 patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Anniston AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Anniston Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Anniston AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be 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 GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to complete and usually include an internship program of at least 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 complete, making the total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor 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 replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Programs Online

Anniston Alabama female student taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as common as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs 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 necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Anniston AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be significantly lower than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding several of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Anniston AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college options. Also, you need to be sure that you pick the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier 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 enroll in an online college, it may 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 just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can research a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Anniston AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your school options. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Anniston AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you select provides both exceptional training and a course of study that supports 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have associations with Anniston AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to obtain practical 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 develop professional relationships in the Anniston medical community and help with job placement once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they select will have to be within driving distance of their Anniston AL residence. Those who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some type of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid department and see what type of aid is offered. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Anniston AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Anniston Online Physical Therapist Programs

Choose the Right Anniston Physical Therapist School

Choosing the right physical therapist college is an important initial decision you need to make to start a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that a number of factors will lead you toward your final decision. You might decide to visit different colleges to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Anniston Alabama.


 

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