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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist School Near Eufaula Alabama

Eufaula Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Eufaula AL is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are looking at to make certain they will supply a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered besides location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Eufaula Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Eufaula AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Eufaula AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Eufaula Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate 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 emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Eufaula AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to complete 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 element in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in several states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer available in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Eufaula Alabama woman taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more 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 close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Eufaula AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

By now you most likely have made a decision regarding a few of your initial questions, like the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Eufaula AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college options. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you choose the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier stated, 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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call several Eufaula AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your program 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 submitted against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Eufaula AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the school has a large network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria 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 therapist school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have partnerships with Eufaula AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Eufaula health care community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Large 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 prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Eufaula AL home. Those who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? The majority of DPT schools supply some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of aid is available. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist 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 evening or weekend classes in the Eufaula AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Eufaula Physical Therapy Training

Choose the Right Eufaula Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the right physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you must make to start a gratifying career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are other critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that many variables will lead you toward your final decision. You might want to go to each of the colleges to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Eufaula Alabama.


 

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