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

Attalla Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Attalla AL is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate those you are looking at to make certain they will furnish a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to 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 relevant qualifications that must be considered along with cost and location. But before we talk about 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 is a Physical Therapist?

Attalla Alabama physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, such as Attalla AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Attalla AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Attalla Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Attalla AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an important element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in a number of 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 phased out and is no longer available in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Colleges Online

Attalla Alabama female student taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Attalla AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning several of your initial queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Attalla AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to research other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you choose the program that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple 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 check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call a few Attalla AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest 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 see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Attalla AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you select provides both superior training and a curriculum 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 therapy program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Attalla AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Attalla health care community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering 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 determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Attalla AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you decide 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 generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance department and find out what type of aid is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools provide 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 School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy program you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Attalla AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Attalla Physical Therapy Programs

Enroll in the Right Attalla Physical Therapist School

Choosing the right physical therapy program is an important first decision you need to make to start a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your final decision. You might want to go to different campuses to see their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Attalla Alabama.


 

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