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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy School Near Chelsea Alabama

Chelsea Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Chelsea AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the appropriate training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate the ones you are looking at to make sure they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to 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 relevant qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to cost and location. But before we talk about 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?

Chelsea Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Chelsea AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Chelsea AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Chelsea Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist 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 practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Chelsea AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often offered by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a practicing licensed 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 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential component in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely 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 eliminated and is no longer attainable in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Schools

Chelsea Alabama woman taking physical therapy courses onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional options, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated 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 course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Chelsea AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning a few of your preliminary questions, including the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Chelsea AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you choose the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are considering 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 program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with several Chelsea AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your college selections. It might also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Chelsea AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you choose furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements 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 therapy program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are interested in have partnerships with Chelsea AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Chelsea health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Chelsea AL home. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing 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 might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often 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 Help Offered? The majority of DPT schools supply some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and see what kind of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapist college you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Chelsea AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Chelsea Physical Therapy Majors

Choose the Right Chelsea Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the ideal physical therapist college is a necessary first decision you have to make to launch a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you choose should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are other important questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your final decision. You might decide to go to different campuses to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Chelsea Alabama.


 

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