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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Eufaula Alabama

Eufaula Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Eufaula AL is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will deliver a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to cost and location. 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Eufaula Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, including Eufaula AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Eufaula AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Eufaula Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, 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 prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Eufaula AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often made available by community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required 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 normally take 4 years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment 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 phased out 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 existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Schools

Eufaula Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online part of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Eufaula AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition may be somewhat less than comparable on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

By now you probably have come to decision concerning some of your preliminary questions, like the type of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Eufaula AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to look into additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you need to be sure that you select the college that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate 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 therapy school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from 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 assistance.

What is the College's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with several Eufaula AL physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your program options. It may 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Eufaula AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you select provides both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have associations with Eufaula AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Eufaula healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Eufaula AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally 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 bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT colleges offer some type of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department and see what kind of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Eufaula AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Eufaula Physical Therapy Majors

Choose the Best Eufaula Physical Therapist School

Picking the best physical therapist school is a necessary first decision you need to make to launch a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional critical questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that many variables will lead you to your final decision. You might decide to visit different schools to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Eufaula Alabama.


 

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