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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Daleville Alabama

Daleville Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Daleville AL is an important first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the appropriate education and training. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are looking at to make certain they will furnish a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we cover 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?

Daleville Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, including Daleville AL hospitals, health clinics, 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 touched on, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Daleville AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Daleville Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is available 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 preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Daleville AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often provided by community or junior colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to complete and commonly incorporate 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 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 complete, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in several 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 holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Schools Online

Daleville Alabama female student taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Daleville AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition might be significantly less than similar on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Daleville AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you pick the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 enroll in an online school, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact some Daleville AL physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your program options. It may also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Daleville AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the program has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you select furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are reviewing have relationships with Daleville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Daleville healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Daleville AL home. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally 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 keep in mind 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 generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT schools provide some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid department and see what type of help is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Daleville AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Daleville Online Physical Therapist Schools

Enroll in the Best Daleville Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the best physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you have to make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional relevant questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that a number of factors will guide you toward your final decision. You might want to visit different schools to see their facilities and speak with active 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 have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Daleville Alabama.


 

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