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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Brewton Alabama

Brewton Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Brewton AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate those you are thinking about to make sure they will provide a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Brewton Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, such as Brewton 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 people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Brewton AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee 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 going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Brewton Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Brewton AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 3 years to complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an important component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not only 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 eliminated and is no longer available in the USA. 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 Online Programs

Brewton Alabama female student taking physical therapist courses onlineAlthough 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 structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Brewton AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition may be significantly less than similar on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you probably have made a decision concerning some of your preliminary questions, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Brewton AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to make sure that you enroll in the school that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are considering 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 choose an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call a few Brewton AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insight 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 Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Brewton AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you enroll in provides both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have relationships with Brewton AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Brewton medical community and assist with job placement once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching what the average 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 talk with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Brewton AL residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble 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 decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have 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 Support Provided? The majority of DPT schools 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 kind of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist program you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Brewton AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out 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 might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Brewton Physical Therapy Programs

Choose the Right Brewton Physical Therapist School

Choosing the ideal physical therapist college is an important initial decision you have to make to launch a rewarding career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you choose should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are additional critical questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that many variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may want to go to different schools to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Brewton Alabama.


 

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