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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist College Near Calera Alabama

Calera Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Calera AL is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate those you are considering to make sure they will provide a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Calera Alabama physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, such as Calera AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Calera AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Calera Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Calera AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order 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 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced 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 in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Calera Alabama female student taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Calera AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

By now you most likely have made a decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Calera AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to look into additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you pick the college that is best for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional 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 select an online college, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call some Calera AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your program selections. It might also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Calera AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have partnerships with Calera AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional connections in the Calera health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they select will have to be within driving distance of their Calera AL residence. Students 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 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 usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Most DPT schools provide some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department and see what kind of assistance is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Calera AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Calera Online Physical Therapist Degrees

Choose the Right Calera Physical Therapist School

Choosing the ideal physical therapist school is an important first decision you need to make to start a gratifying career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that a number of factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to different colleges to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school 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 field so you can make the right selection. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Calera Alabama.


 

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