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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Enterprise Alabama

Enterprise Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Enterprise AL is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate those you are thinking about to ensure they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered besides cost and location. 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Enterprise Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, such as Enterprise AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Enterprise AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite 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

Enterprise Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is available 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 preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Enterprise AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also 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 total investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, 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 eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. A number of licensed 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 instituted.

Physical Therapist Degrees Online

Enterprise Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Enterprise AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

At this point you most likely have come to decision regarding several of your preliminary questions, including the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Enterprise AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school options. Moreover, you want to make certain that you select the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are looking at have received 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 enroll in an online college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact a few Enterprise AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your school options. It might also be a good idea 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 two important statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Enterprise AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the Program 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 therapist college. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are reviewing have relationships with Enterprise AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Enterprise healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Enterprise AL residence. Students 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 concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps 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 normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT schools supply some form of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid office and see what kind of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy school you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Enterprise AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Enterprise Online Physical Therapy Colleges

Enroll in the Best Enterprise Physical Therapist School

Choosing the right physical therapist college is an important initial decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are other relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your final decision. You may want to visit each of the colleges to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical 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 be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Enterprise Alabama.


 

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