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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist College Near Daleville Alabama

Daleville Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Daleville AL is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the appropriate education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are considering to make sure they will furnish a superior education and comply with 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 home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we discuss 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 physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, including Daleville AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop 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
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Daleville AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering 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 long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Daleville Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Daleville AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by junior or community colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep 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. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order 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 3 years to complete, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential element in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.

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 USA. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Schools Online

Daleville Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Daleville AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

At this point you most likely have made a decision concerning a few of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Daleville AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you choose the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier 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 may also earn 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 just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with 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 School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call several Daleville AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your college selections. It may also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy colleges you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college'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 community is good or even exceptional. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you choose provides both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have relationships with Daleville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Daleville medical community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering 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 ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Daleville AL home. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT colleges offer some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance office and see what kind of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist college you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Daleville AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Daleville Physical Therapy Schools

Choose the Best Daleville Physical Therapy School

Choosing the right physical therapist program is a necessary first decision you must make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you choose should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might want to visit each of the colleges to view their facilities and speak with active 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 be able to narrow down the options so you can make the right choice. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Daleville Alabama.


 

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