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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Clay Alabama

Clay Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Clay AL is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the necessary education and training. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are thinking about to make certain they will furnish a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in 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 must be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about 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?

Clay Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Clay AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Clay AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Clay Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Clay AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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 commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an important element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Clay Alabama female student taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature 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 an available internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Clay AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition can be significantly less than comparable on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you most likely have made a decision concerning several of your initial questions, like the type of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Clay AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Also, you need to make sure that you choose the school that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier 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 choose an online school, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can research a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact some Clay AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your college selections. It might also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out 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 should know about all of the physical therapy programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Clay AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a curriculum 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. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have associations with Clay AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Clay medical community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing what the typical 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 a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Clay AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online obviously 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 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 normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT schools offer some type of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and see what kind of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy school you finally choose can furnish 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 Clay AL area, confirm 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 have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Clay Online Physical Therapist Degrees

Choose the Right Clay Physical Therapy School

Choosing the best physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you choose should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are other important questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your final decision. You might decide to go to each of the schools to see their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Clay Alabama.


 

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