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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Bay Minette Alabama

Bay Minette Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Bay Minette AL is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the proper education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are considering to ensure they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we cover 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Bay Minette Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Bay Minette 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 previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Bay Minette AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Bay Minette Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Bay Minette AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also 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 complete, making the overall commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, 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 phased out and is no longer available in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Degrees Online

Bay Minette Alabama female student taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Bay Minette AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition may be significantly lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you probably have made a decision concerning a few of your initial queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Bay Minette AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Moreover, you want to be sure that you pick the college that is best for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional 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 select an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, beginning 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 agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with a few Bay Minette AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your program selections. It might also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, 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 Bay Minette AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you select furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies 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) along with 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 performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have associations with Bay Minette AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Bay Minette medical community and assist with job placement once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Bay Minette AL home. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to keep 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 be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid department and see what kind of assistance is available. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Bay Minette AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Bay Minette Physical Therapy Schools

Choose the Best Bay Minette Physical Therapist School

Picking the ideal physical therapy college is an important initial decision you need to make to begin a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your final decision. You may want to go to each of the schools to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Bay Minette Alabama.


 

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