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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy School Near Daphne Alabama

Daphne Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Daphne AL is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, 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 essential to evaluate the ones you are considering to make sure they will supply a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered along with 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Daphne Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Daphne AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Daphne AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Daphne Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Daphne AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually provided by junior or community colleges, and require 2 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 education to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 three years to complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an important element in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, 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 attainable in the United States. 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 Online Colleges

Daphne Alabama woman taking physical therapy training onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Daphne AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition may be significantly less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding a few of your initial questions, like the type of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Daphne AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to look into other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college options. Also, you need to make certain that you pick the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out 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 select an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call several Daphne AL physical therapy centers 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 options. It might also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Daphne AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even exceptional. It also affirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you enroll in furnishes both excellent training and a course of study 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 school. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have relationships with Daphne AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Daphne medical community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. 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 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 choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Daphne AL residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes 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 keep 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 normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Most DPT colleges offer some form of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid office and find out what type of assistance is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy school you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Daphne AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Daphne Physical Therapy Colleges

Choose the Best Daphne Physical Therapist School

Picking the ideal physical therapy college is an important first decision you have to make to launch a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that numerous variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit each of the colleges to view their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical 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 options so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Daphne Alabama.


 

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