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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Arab Alabama

Arab Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Arab AL is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate those you are thinking about to make sure they will supply a quality 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 nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated along with location and cost. 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Arab Alabama physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Arab AL hospitals, health clinics, 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 previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Arab AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Arab Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be 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 degrees are most often made available by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want 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 total investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an important element in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Schools Online

Arab Alabama female student 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. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Arab AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you most likely have made a decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, including the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Arab AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you choose the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier 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 enroll in an online college, it can also earn 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 just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Arab AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your program options. It may also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, 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 Arab AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a wide 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 enroll in furnishes both excellent training and a course of study 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have associations with Arab AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Arab medical community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the average 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 decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Arab AL residence. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you decide 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 usually 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 Aid Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid office and see what type of assistance is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy program you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Arab AL area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Arab Physical Therapy Degrees

Enroll in the Best Arab Physical Therapy School

Picking the right physical therapist school is an important initial decision you need to make to launch a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are additional critical questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that a number of factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit different colleges to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me realize 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 options so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Arab Alabama.


 

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