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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist School Near Chickasaw Alabama

Chickasaw Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Chickasaw AL is an essential first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are thinking about to make certain they will deliver a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Chickasaw Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, including Chickasaw AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes 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 previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Chickasaw AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Chickasaw Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single 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 prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Chickasaw AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely 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 attainable in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Chickasaw Alabama female student taking physical therapy courses onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Chickasaw AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition may 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, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

By now you probably have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary questions, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Chickasaw AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to research other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you want to make certain that you enroll in the college that is right for you. That's why we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national 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 enroll in an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with several Chickasaw AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your college selections. 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 schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Chickasaw AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you choose provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have associations with Chickasaw AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Chickasaw health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Chickasaw AL residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble 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 decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps 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 usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT colleges offer some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance department and see what kind of assistance is obtainable. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist college you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Chickasaw AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify 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 may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Chickasaw Physical Therapist Colleges

Choose the Best Chickasaw Physical Therapist School

Picking the right physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you need to make to launch a gratifying career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are additional critical questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that a number of variables will lead you to your final decision. You may decide to go to each of the colleges to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the right selection. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Chickasaw Alabama.


 

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