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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist College Near Chelsea Alabama

Chelsea Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Chelsea AL is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are looking at to ensure they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we discuss 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Chelsea Alabama physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, including Chelsea 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 earlier stated, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Chelsea AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Chelsea Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is offered 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. Below are short summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Chelsea AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train 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 GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to ready students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order 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 three years to complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an intregal component along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in several 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 attainable in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Chelsea Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Chelsea AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition may be significantly lower than comparable on campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring 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 Colleges

By now you probably have made a decision concerning some of your initial queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Chelsea AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to research additional qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college options. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you enroll in the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are considering have earned 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 choose an online college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Call several Chelsea AL physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your program selections. It might also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Chelsea AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the school has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you select provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are interested in have relationships with Chelsea AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Chelsea healthcare community and assist with job placement once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Chelsea AL residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry 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 program 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 often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT schools provide some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of help is offered. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapist program you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Chelsea AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Chelsea Online Physical Therapy Degrees

Enroll in the Best Chelsea Physical Therapist School

Picking the best physical therapist college is an important initial decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you choose should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are additional relevant questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that numerous factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to each of the colleges to see their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing 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 appropriate choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Chelsea Alabama.


 

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