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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Brook Highland Alabama

Brook Highland Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Brook Highland AL is an essential first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are considering to ensure they will supply a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered besides location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Brook Highland Alabama physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, including Brook Highland AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Brook Highland AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is rather 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 Therapist Degrees

Brook Highland Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is attainable 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 prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Brook Highland AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prepare students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of at least 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential 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 as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated 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 mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Schools

Brook Highland Alabama woman taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more 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 necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Brook Highland AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Brook Highland AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to look into other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school options. Also, you want to be sure that you choose the college that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you enroll in an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with several Brook Highland AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your school options. 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower 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 placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Brook Highland AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you choose furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements vary 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 exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have associations with Brook Highland AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional connections in the Brook Highland medical community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for 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 sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Brook Highland AL home. Those who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear 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 may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of help is available. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapist program you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Brook Highland AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Brook Highland Physical Therapy Training

Choose the Right Brook Highland Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the right physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you need to make to start a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that numerous variables will lead you toward your final decision. You may want to visit different colleges to see their facilities and speak with current 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 adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the right selection. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Brook Highland Alabama.


 

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