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

Chelsea Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Chelsea AL is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the proper training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate those you are thinking about to make certain they will provide a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated besides 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 the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Chelsea Alabama physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying locations, such as Chelsea AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Chelsea AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Chelsea Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, 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 advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Chelsea AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become 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 programs are typically provided by community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate 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 complete and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program must also 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 total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only 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 phased out and is no longer available in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Chelsea Alabama female student taking physical therapist courses onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so 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 necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Chelsea AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenses 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 alternative the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, including the type of physical therapist degree you intend to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Chelsea AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college options. Also, you need to make sure that you choose the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online school, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact a few Chelsea AL physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your school selections. It may also be prudent to contact 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 Rate? There are a two important statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy colleges you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Chelsea AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you enroll in furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have associations with Chelsea AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Chelsea health care community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at 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 final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Chelsea AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid department and see what type of help is offered. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy college you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Chelsea AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Chelsea Physical Therapist Majors

Enroll in the Best Chelsea Physical Therapy School

Choosing the right physical therapy school is a necessary initial decision you must make to begin a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are other relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that a number of factors will lead you toward your final decision. You might decide to visit each of the colleges to view their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed 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 choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Chelsea Alabama.


 

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