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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy College Near Clay Alabama

Clay Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Clay AL is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are thinking about to make sure they will supply a quality education and comply with 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 home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered in addition to 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Clay Alabama DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, such as Clay AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Clay AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Clay Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Clay AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare 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 degrees are usually offered by community or junior colleges, and require two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to prep students to move up 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 the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to complete and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program also must 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 finish, making the total commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in some 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 available in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Clay Alabama female student taking physical therapy courses onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Clay AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be significantly less than comparable on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding several of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Clay AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school options. Also, you want to make certain that you pick the program that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 enroll in an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with a few Clay AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your school options. It may also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy colleges you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Clay AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also affirms that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you enroll in furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While 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 additional tests.

Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have partnerships with Clay AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Clay health care community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the typical teacher to student 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 talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Clay AL residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly 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 Help Provided? Most DPT schools provide some form of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance office and see what type of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist college you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Clay 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, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Clay Online Physical Therapist Majors

Enroll in the Best Clay Physical Therapy School

Picking the ideal physical therapist college is an important initial decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you select should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are additional important questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that many factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit different colleges to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Clay Alabama.


 

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