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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Daphne Alabama

Daphne Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Daphne AL is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are thinking about to make sure they will supply a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Daphne Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, such as Daphne AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Daphne AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Daphne Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for individuals 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 concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Daphne 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. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by community or junior colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to ready candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program also must 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. Clinical or practical training is an essential element in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in some 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 available in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Daphne Alabama female student taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Daphne AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you most likely have come to decision concerning several of your initial queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Daphne AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to research other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to make certain that you pick the college that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier stated, 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 may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call some Daphne AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your college options. It may also be a good idea 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 Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Daphne 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 outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you choose furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum 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 college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT 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 assessing have partnerships with Daphne AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Daphne medical community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Daphne AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes 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 bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school 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 usually charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department and find out what type of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist college you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Daphne AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out 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 may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Daphne Online Physical Therapist Colleges

Enroll in the Best Daphne Physical Therapist School

Picking the best physical therapist program is an important initial decision you need to make to launch a fulfilling 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 excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that many factors will lead you toward your final decision. You might want to visit different campuses to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Daphne Alabama.


 

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