Home >> Alabama >> Bessemer >> Physical Therapy Schools


Request Free Information on Physical Therapy Degree Majors Bessemer AL 35020

How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Bessemer Alabama

Bessemer Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Bessemer AL is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the necessary education and training. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee receive 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 considering to make sure they will furnish a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Bessemer Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in varying settings, such as Bessemer AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce 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:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Bessemer AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Offered

Bessemer Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Bessemer AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as 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 qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in several 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 available in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

Bessemer Alabama woman taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online part of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Bessemer AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition may 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, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you probably have made a decision regarding some of your initial questions, like the type of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Bessemer AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to make sure that you choose the program that is best for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are looking at have earned 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 choose an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call a few Bessemer AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your school 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 submitted against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Bessemer AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also affirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a course of study 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapist schools you are assessing have relationships with Bessemer AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Bessemer healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Bessemer AL home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online obviously 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 school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial aid department and find out what kind of help is obtainable. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy school you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Bessemer AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check 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 as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Bessemer Online Physical Therapist Programs

Choose the Best Bessemer Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the ideal physical therapist program is an important first decision you must make to start a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are other important questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that numerous factors will guide you toward your final decision. You might decide to go to each of the schools to see their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me reach 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 right selection. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Bessemer Alabama.


 

Bessemer Physical Therapy Major Programs | Main | Bessemer Physical Therapist Schools