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

East Florence Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapist degree near East Florence AL is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated 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 must obtain the proper education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are considering to make certain they will provide a quality education and meet 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 residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered along with location and cost. But before we discuss 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?

East Florence Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, such as East Florence AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other East Florence AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly 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 three physical therapy degrees available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single 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 readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the East Florence AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually provided by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to ready students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program must also 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 investment of time 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just 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 phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Degrees

East Florence Alabama female student taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs 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 necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's East Florence AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

By now you most likely have come to decision concerning a few of your preliminary questions, including the type of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the East Florence AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to look into other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you select the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously 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 college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact several East Florence AL physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your program selections. It may also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the East Florence AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the school has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you choose furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are reviewing have partnerships with East Florence AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the East Florence health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost 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 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 decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their East Florence AL home. Students who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. 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 may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid office and find out what type of assistance is offered. They at least should help in securing 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 college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist college you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the East Florence AL area, confirm 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 need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About East Florence Online Physical Therapist Majors

Enroll in the Right East Florence Physical Therapy School

Choosing the right physical therapy school is an important initial decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that a number of variables will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to visit different campuses to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me realize 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 right selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in East Florence Alabama.


 

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