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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist College Near Brook Highland Alabama

Brook Highland Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Brook Highland AL is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the proper education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are considering to ensure they will deliver a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about 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 is a Physical Therapist?

Brook Highland Alabama physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, such as Brook Highland AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers 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 stated, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Brook Highland AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Brook Highland Alabama DPT working with man in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to ready students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and often incorporate 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 3 years to finish, making the overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, 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 phased out and is no longer offered in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Schools

Brook Highland Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Brook Highland AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition may be significantly lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, including the type of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Brook Highland AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to look into other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you pick the program that is best for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 can also receive 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. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Call a few Brook Highland AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your school selections. It may also be prudent to check with 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 relevant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Brook Highland AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you choose provides both excellent training and a course of study that supports 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing have associations with Brook Highland AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional connections in the Brook Highland health care community and assist with job placement once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the typical 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 a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Brook Highland AL residence. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are considering have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of help is available. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist college you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Brook Highland AL area, confirm that they are available. 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 have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Brook Highland Online Physical Therapy Degrees

Choose the Right Brook Highland Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the ideal physical therapist college is an important first decision you need to make to start a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are other critical questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that a number of variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to different schools to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal selection. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Brook Highland Alabama.


 

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