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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Daphne Alabama

Daphne Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Daphne AL is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate training and education. 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 choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are considering to make certain they will furnish a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable 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 cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Daphne Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Daphne AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Daphne AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Daphne Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Daphne AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and require 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 students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential element in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in some states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Daphne Alabama woman taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Daphne AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning several of your preliminary questions, including the kind of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Daphne AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to make sure that you choose the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. 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 choose an online program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact a few Daphne AL physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your school options. It may also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance 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 outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you choose 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 every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are reviewing have associations with Daphne AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, 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 healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are looking at 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 ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Daphne AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider 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 typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT schools provide some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance department and find out what type of help is obtainable. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist college you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Daphne AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Daphne Physical Therapist Colleges

Choose the Right Daphne Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the ideal physical therapy school is a necessary initial decision you have to make to start a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you choose should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit different campuses to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Daphne Alabama.


 

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