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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Brewton Alabama

Brewton Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Brewton AL is an essential first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate those you are looking at to ensure they will supply a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. 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 cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Brewton Alabama physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Brewton AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Brewton AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Brewton Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Brewton AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to complete and often incorporate 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 finish, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential element along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, 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 attainable in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Colleges Online

Brewton Alabama female student taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, 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 requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online segment 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 a number of cases more economical. Tuition may be significantly less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning a few of your preliminary questions, like the type of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Brewton AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to look into additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you need to be sure that you select the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. 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 enroll in an online college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact some Brewton AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your school selections. It may also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students left due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Brewton AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you enroll in provides both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every 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 fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have associations with Brewton AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Brewton medical community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Brewton AL home. Those 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. 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 might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT colleges offer some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid office and see what type of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships 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 might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapy program you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Brewton AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Brewton Physical Therapy Colleges

Choose the Best Brewton Physical Therapy School

Selecting the right physical therapy program is an important first decision you have to make to launch a gratifying career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other important questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that numerous variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit different campuses to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Brewton Alabama.


 

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