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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Bay Minette Alabama

Bay Minette Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Bay Minette AL is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated 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 get the necessary education and training. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are considering to make certain they will deliver a quality education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered along with cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Bay Minette Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, including Bay Minette AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Bay Minette AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Bay Minette Alabama DPT working with man in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by junior or community colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education 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 essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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 finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in some states for licensing also.

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 offered in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Programs

Bay Minette Alabama woman taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Bay Minette AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be significantly less than similar on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Bay Minette AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school options. Moreover, you need to make certain that you pick the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier stated, 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 college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can research a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact 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 provide any recommendations about your college selections. It may also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out 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. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Bay Minette AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you select furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have associations with Bay Minette AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Bay Minette medical community and help with job placement once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the typical 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 talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Bay Minette AL home. Students who have opted 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 importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial support to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial aid office and see what type of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. A number of physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist program you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Bay Minette AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Bay Minette Online Physical Therapy Majors

Choose the Best Bay Minette Physical Therapy School

Choosing the ideal physical therapy college is an important initial decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are other critical questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your final decision. You may want to visit each of the schools to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the right selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Bay Minette Alabama.


 

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