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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist College Near Enterprise Alabama

Enterprise Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Enterprise AL is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are looking at to ensure they will provide a superior education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered besides cost and location. 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?

Enterprise Alabama physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, including Enterprise AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate 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
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Enterprise AL medical 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 bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Enterprise Alabama DPT working with man in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to complete and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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 3 years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an important component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not solely 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 eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Enterprise Alabama woman taking physical therapy training onlineWhile not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Enterprise AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning several of your initial questions, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Enterprise AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to look into other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you choose the college that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are considering 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 select an online college, it can also earn 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. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can research a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for 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 as well. Call several Enterprise AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your college options. It might also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the school'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 health care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also affirms that the school has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you choose provides both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Enterprise AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Enterprise healthcare community and assist with job placement once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Enterprise AL residence. Those who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even 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 usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT schools offer some type of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid department and find out what kind of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy program you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Enterprise AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Enterprise Online Physical Therapist Courses

Enroll in the Best Enterprise Physical Therapist School

Selecting the best physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you must make to launch a rewarding career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that numerous factors will guide you toward your final decision. You might decide to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the right choice. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Enterprise Alabama.


 

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