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How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Dixiana Alabama

Dixiana Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Dixiana AL is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are considering to make certain they will deliver a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we cover 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Dixiana Alabama physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, including Dixiana AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Dixiana AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Dixiana Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is available 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 brief descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Dixiana AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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 three years to finish, making the total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in a number of 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 phased out and is no longer attainable 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 instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Colleges

Dixiana Alabama female student taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Dixiana AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, such as the type of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Dixiana AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to look into additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school options. Also, you want to make sure that you choose the college that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier stated, 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 school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact some Dixiana AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your college selections. It might 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 School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist programs you are considering. First 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, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Dixiana AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the school has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria 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 therapist college. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are interested in have relationships with Dixiana AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Dixiana medical community and help with job placement after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate 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 therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they select will have to be within driving distance of their Dixiana AL home. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT colleges provide some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department and find out what kind of help is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy college you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Dixiana AL area, make sure 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 enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Dixiana Physical Therapist Schools

Enroll in the Right Dixiana Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the right physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you have to make to launch a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that many variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might want to go to each of the schools to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me achieve 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 field so you can make the right selection. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Dixiana Alabama.


 

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