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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy School Near Anniston Alabama

Anniston Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Anniston AL is an essential 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 mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the necessary 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 enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are considering to make sure they will supply a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest 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 the options for education.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Anniston Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, including Anniston AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Anniston AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Anniston Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required 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 4 years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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 finish, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential component in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely 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 phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Schools

Anniston Alabama female student taking physical therapy courses onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Anniston AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat lower than similar on campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

By now you probably have come to decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Anniston AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to look into other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you select the college that is best for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. 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 choose an online school, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. 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 can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact a few Anniston AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your program options. It may also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Anniston AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even exceptional. It also affirms that the school has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you select provides both superior training and a course of study 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing have associations with Anniston AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Anniston healthcare community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Anniston AL home. Students who have opted 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. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? The majority of DPT colleges offer some form of financial support to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance department and find out what type of help is available. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Anniston AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative 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 may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Anniston Physical Therapist Programs

Choose the Best Anniston Physical Therapist School

Choosing the ideal physical therapist program is an important first decision you have to make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that many factors will guide you toward your final decision. You may decide to visit different schools to view their facilities and talk to current 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 additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Anniston Alabama.


 

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