Home >> Alabama >> Attalla >> Physical Therapist Degrees


Receive Free Information on Physical Therapy Courses Attalla AL 35954

How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Attalla Alabama

Attalla Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Attalla AL is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are considering to make sure they will deliver a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to location and cost. 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Attalla Alabama DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Attalla AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, 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 program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Attalla AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, 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 Therapy Degree Options

Attalla Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is offered 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 readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Attalla AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be 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 qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training 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 integral first step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to complete and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.

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 United States. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Schools

Attalla Alabama female student taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as common as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Attalla AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

By now you most likely have come to decision regarding several of your initial questions, such as the type of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Attalla AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you pick the college that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national 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 choose an online school, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with a few Attalla AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your college selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Attalla 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 even outstanding. It also verifies that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have relationships with Attalla AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, 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 Attalla healthcare community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on 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 as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Attalla AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble 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 may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT schools offer some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance department and see what kind of help is available. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist school you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Attalla AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Attalla Physical Therapy Schools

Choose the Best Attalla Physical Therapist School

Choosing the ideal physical therapy college is a necessary first decision you have to make to launch a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have discussed 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 relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your final decision. You might want to go to each of the colleges to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Attalla Alabama.


 

Attalla Physical Therapy Degrees | Main | Attalla Physical Therapy Major Programs