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How to Select the Right Physical Therapist School Near East Florence Alabama

East Florence Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballEarning a physical therapy degree near East Florence AL is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are considering to ensure they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered besides location and cost. But before we discuss 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 is a Physical Therapist?

East Florence Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, such as East Florence AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other East Florence AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

East Florence Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the East Florence AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to complete and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order 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 substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor 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 replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the United States. A number of practicing 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 implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

East Florence Alabama woman taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's East Florence AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition might be significantly less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding several of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the East Florence AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to look into other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to be sure that you select the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are reviewing 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 select an online college, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring 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 Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact a few East Florence AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your program options. It might 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 School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the East Florence AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps excellent. It also affirms that the college has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you enroll in furnishes both excellent 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 required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have associations with East Florence AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the East Florence health care community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they choose will need to be within driving distance of their East Florence AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry 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 choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly 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 Offered? Most DPT colleges provide some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of assistance is obtainable. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist school you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the East Florence AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About East Florence Physical Therapist Majors

Enroll in the Right East Florence Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the best physical therapy program is a necessary first decision you must make to launch a fulfilling 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 exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are other relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that many factors will lead you toward your final decision. You may decide to go to different schools to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in East Florence Alabama.


 

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