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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Demopolis Alabama

Demopolis Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Demopolis AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to injury or illness 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 every state, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate those you are looking at to ensure they will supply a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we cover 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?

Demopolis Alabama DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, such as Demopolis AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers 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 struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

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

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Demopolis Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is available 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 preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Demopolis AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer offered in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Degrees Online

Demopolis Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as common as the on campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Demopolis AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

By now you probably have come to decision concerning a few of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Demopolis AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to explore other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you enroll in the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional 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 select an online school, it may also obtain 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 simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with a few Demopolis AL physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your college options. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once 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 Demopolis AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also affirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you choose furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing have partnerships with Demopolis AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional connections in the Demopolis health care community and help with job placement once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Demopolis AL home. Students who have decided 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 college 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 commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT schools provide some type of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid office and see what type of aid is available. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist school you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Demopolis AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Demopolis Online Physical Therapy Training

Enroll in the Right Demopolis Physical Therapist School

Selecting the right physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that numerous factors will guide you toward your final decision. You may want to go to each of the colleges to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me accomplish 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 best selection. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Demopolis Alabama.


 

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