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

Calera Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Calera AL is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the proper education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are thinking about to ensure they will furnish a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is enroll in 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 along with 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's Job Description?

Calera Alabama DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, including 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 the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

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

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Calera Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Calera 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 earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often provided by community colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary 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 a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also 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 seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in some states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Degrees Online

Calera Alabama female student taking physical therapist courses onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees 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 college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Calera AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you most likely have made a decision regarding a few of your preliminary queries, including the kind of physical therapy degree you want to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Calera AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school options. Moreover, you need to be sure 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 colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at 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 program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Calera AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your school options. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might 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 support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Calera AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the school has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you choose provides both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements vary 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 supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have relationships with Calera AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Calera health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the average 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 converse with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Calera AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly 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 colleges provide some type of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department and find out what kind of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist college you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Calera AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Calera Physical Therapist Majors

Choose the Best Calera Physical Therapy School

Choosing the ideal physical therapy school is a necessary initial decision you need to make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. 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 college keep in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your final decision. You may want to go to each of the schools to view their facilities and speak to 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 adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Calera Alabama.


 

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