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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Arab Alabama

Arab Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Arab AL is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are considering to make certain they will provide a quality education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Arab Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including Arab AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Arab AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Arab Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Arab 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 degrees are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order 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 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential element along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just 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 eliminated 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 prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Schools Online

Arab Alabama woman taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as common as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of 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 nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Arab AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat less than comparable on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, like the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Arab AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to look into other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you want to make certain that you pick the college that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 choose an online college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with some Arab AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your school selections. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Arab AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or even exceptional. It also confirms that the program has a large network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you enroll in furnishes both superior 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 required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are reviewing have partnerships with Arab AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Arab medical community and help with job placement after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Arab AL residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and see what kind of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy college you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Arab AL area, check that they are offered. 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 enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Arab Physical Therapy Majors

Enroll in the Best Arab Physical Therapy School

Choosing the ideal physical therapist program is an important first decision you need to make to launch a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are other relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that many factors will guide you toward your final decision. You may want to go to different campuses to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Arab Alabama.


 

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