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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy College Near Atmore Alabama

Atmore Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Atmore AL is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate those you are looking at to ensure they will deliver a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we talk about 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?

Atmore Alabama physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Atmore AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes 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 previously touched on, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Atmore AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Atmore Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Atmore AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually provided by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to ready students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion 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 eliminated and is no longer available in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Colleges

Atmore Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Atmore AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning some of your initial queries, including the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Atmore AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Moreover, you need to be sure that you pick the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online college, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact a few Atmore AL physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your college selections. It may also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students left due to 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 Atmore AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also confirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you choose provides both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have associations with Atmore AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates develop professional connections in the Atmore medical community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Atmore AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something 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 have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT schools supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial aid office and see what type of assistance is available. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist program you finally 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 Atmore AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Atmore Online Physical Therapy Training

Choose the Right Atmore Physical Therapist School

Picking the ideal physical therapist program is an important initial decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are additional important questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that a number of factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to different colleges to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Atmore Alabama.


 

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