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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Dixiana Alabama

Dixiana Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Dixiana AL is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the proper training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are thinking about to make certain they will provide a quality education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated along with cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Dixiana Alabama physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Dixiana AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing 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 strive to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Dixiana AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Dixiana 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 options, the one degree that is available 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. Below are brief explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Dixiana AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to ready students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally take 4 years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want 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 three years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential element along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not only 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 offered in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Degrees

Dixiana Alabama female student taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs available, more so 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 requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Dixiana AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning some of your preliminary questions, including the kind of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Dixiana AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you choose the program that is ideal for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you enroll in an online college, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT program'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 also. Call some Dixiana AL physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your college selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Dixiana AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you choose provides 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 therapist program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have partnerships with Dixiana AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Dixiana health care community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Dixiana AL residence. Those who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid office and see what kind of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy program you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Dixiana AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Dixiana Physical Therapy Majors

Choose the Best Dixiana Physical Therapy School

Picking the ideal physical therapist college is a necessary first decision you must make to launch a rewarding career in the medical profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are additional relevant questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that a number of variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit each of the colleges to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Dixiana Alabama.


 

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