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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Auburn Alabama

Auburn Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Auburn AL is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to 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 receive the proper training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are looking at to ensure they will supply a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered besides location and cost. 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?

Auburn Alabama DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, such as Auburn AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Auburn AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering entering 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 Degree Options

Auburn Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the one 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 progress to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Auburn AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by community colleges, and require 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 therapy 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 important first step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order 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 complete, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential 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 eliminated and is no longer attainable in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Colleges

Auburn Alabama female student taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Auburn AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition might be significantly lower than similar on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

By now you most likely have come to decision regarding several of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Auburn AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school options. Also, you need to make sure that you enroll in the school that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously 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 enroll in an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with some Auburn 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 recommendations about your school 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 schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, 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 Auburn AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you select provides both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have relationships with Auburn AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Auburn healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely 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 typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Auburn AL residence. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT schools offer some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid department and find out what kind of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist program you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Auburn AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Auburn Online Physical Therapist Courses

Enroll in the Best Auburn Physical Therapy School

Picking the right physical therapist college is an important initial decision you must make to begin a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are other relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that a number of factors will lead you toward your final decision. You may decide to go to different campuses to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best selection. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Auburn Alabama.


 

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