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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy College Near East Florence Alabama

East Florence Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballGetting a physical therapist degree near East Florence AL is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the appropriate training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate those you are looking at to ensure they will furnish a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that must 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

East Florence Alabama DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, such as East Florence AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, 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 address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other East Florence AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand 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 therapist degrees available for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the East Florence AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or may 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 most often offered by community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to ready students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally take four 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 licensed practicing 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 complete, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in some 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 attainable in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Programs Online

East Florence Alabama woman taking physical therapy training onlineWhile not as common as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's East Florence AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat less than comparable on campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding a few of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the East Florence AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to research other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college options. Also, you need to make certain that you select the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national 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 program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call some East Florence AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your college selections. It may also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the East Florence AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the school has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you choose provides both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are reviewing have associations with East Florence AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the East Florence health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they pick will have to be within driving distance of their East Florence AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep 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 might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? The majority of DPT colleges provide some form of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and see what type of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy college you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the East Florence AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About East Florence Online Physical Therapy Majors

Choose the Best East Florence Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the right physical therapist program is an important first decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you pick should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are other critical questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that numerous variables will guide you toward your final decision. You may decide to visit each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me reach 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 options so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in East Florence Alabama.


 

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