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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy College Near Boaz Alabama

Boaz Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Boaz AL is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate those you are thinking about to ensure they will provide a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered besides location and cost. But before we discuss 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?

Boaz Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, such as Boaz AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Boaz AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Boaz Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Boaz AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often offered by community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a licensed practicing 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 complete, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in a number of 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 eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Programs

Boaz Alabama female student taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Boaz AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition may 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 advantages can make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

By now you most likely have come to decision concerning some of your preliminary questions, like the type 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 considering there are numerous PT schools within the Boaz AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you enroll in the program that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you enroll in an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can research 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 agencies for their reviews also. Contact a few Boaz AL physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your college options. It may also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Boaz AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also affirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you choose provides both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are reviewing have relationships with Boaz AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Boaz medical 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 rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Boaz AL home. Those who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

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

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy college you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Boaz AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Boaz Online Physical Therapy Schools

Choose the Right Boaz Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the best physical therapy college is an important initial decision you have to make to begin a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your final decision. You may decide to visit different schools to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the right selection. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Boaz Alabama.


 

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