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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist School Near Boaz Alabama

Boaz Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Boaz AL is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain 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 become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are thinking about to make certain they will deliver a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered besides cost and location. 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Boaz Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, including Boaz AL hospitals, health clinics, 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 touched on, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility issues 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 abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Boaz AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Boaz Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to ready candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a practicing licensed 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 3 years to complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential element along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in some 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 phased out and is no longer available in the United States. Some 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 Programs Online

Boaz Alabama female student taking physical therapy training onlineWhile not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so 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 requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Boaz AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition may be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, like the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Boaz AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to make certain that you choose the program that is best for you. That's why we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier 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 select an online program, it may 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 recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Boaz AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your college selections. It might also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Boaz AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps excellent. It also affirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you choose provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are reviewing have associations with Boaz AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Boaz health care community and help with job placement once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Boaz AL home. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid department and see what type of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. A number of physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Boaz AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Boaz Physical Therapy Colleges

Choose the Right Boaz Physical Therapy School

Selecting the best physical therapist college is an important initial decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you pick should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are additional relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that many factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit different schools to see their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Boaz Alabama.


 

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