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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Arab Alabama

Arab Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Arab AL is an essential first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are considering to ensure they will deliver a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered along with cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Arab Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, 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 the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Arab AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Arab Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training 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 Arab AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to complete and commonly 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 also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just 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 eliminated and is no longer available in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Colleges

Arab Alabama woman taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Arab AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition may be somewhat lower than similar on campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you probably have made a decision regarding some of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Arab AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you pick the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously stated, 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 college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting 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. Contact several Arab AL physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college selections. It might 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 should know about all of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Arab AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you enroll in provides both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements 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 therapist school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have associations with Arab AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional connections in the Arab health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly 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 average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Arab AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online naturally 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 choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might 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 to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT schools offer some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance department and see what kind of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Arab AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Arab Online Physical Therapy Degrees

Choose the Best Arab Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the right physical therapy school is a necessary initial decision you need to make to launch a rewarding career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that many variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to go to different colleges to view their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Arab Alabama.


 

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