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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Chickasaw Alabama

Chickasaw Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Chickasaw AL is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the proper education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate those you are considering to make sure they will deliver a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered besides location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Chickasaw Alabama physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, including Chickasaw AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Chickasaw AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Chickasaw Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying 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 may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal element along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.

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. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Chickasaw Alabama female student taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so 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 requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Chickasaw AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat less than similar on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

By now you probably have come to decision concerning a few of your initial questions, including the kind of physical therapy degree you want to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Chickasaw AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you enroll in the college that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 college, it can also obtain 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 just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can research a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact some Chickasaw AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college 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 schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate 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 support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Chickasaw AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you select furnishes both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are evaluating have relationships with Chickasaw AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Chickasaw health care community and help with job placement once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Chickasaw AL home. Individuals who have decided 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 importance. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of aid is offered. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist program you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Chickasaw AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Chickasaw Online Physical Therapist Schools

Choose the Right Chickasaw Physical Therapist School

Selecting the best physical therapy program is a necessary initial decision you must make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you pick should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are additional critical questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that many variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to different campuses to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best selection. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Chickasaw Alabama.


 

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