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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Chickasaw Alabama

Chickasaw Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Chickasaw AL is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are considering to make sure they will furnish a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a school simply 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 considered in addition to cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Chickasaw Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, such as Chickasaw AL hospitals, health clinics, 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 people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate 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
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Chickasaw AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Chickasaw Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Chickasaw AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a practicing licensed 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 finish, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, 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 eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

Chickasaw Alabama female student taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more 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 necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Chickasaw AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition might be significantly lower than comparable on campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary questions, like the kind of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Chickasaw AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you need to be sure that you enroll in the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national 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 select an online school, it can also earn 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. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can research a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call some Chickasaw AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your college selections. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Chickasaw AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the school has a large network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you select furnishes both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria 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 therapy school. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have relationships with Chickasaw AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional connections in the Chickasaw medical community and help with job placement after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on 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 commuting distance of their Chickasaw AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some form of financial support to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid department and see what type of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.

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

Find Out More About Chickasaw Physical Therapy Schools

Choose the Best Chickasaw Physical Therapy School

Selecting the right physical therapist program is a necessary first decision you have to make to start a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college 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 final decision. You may want to go to each of the colleges to view their facilities and talk 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 following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Chickasaw Alabama.


 

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