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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Foley Alabama

Foley Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Foley AL is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will deliver a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered along with location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Foley Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, such as Foley AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers 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 previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Foley AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Foley Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Foley 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 GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by community or junior colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a licensed practicing 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 3 years to complete, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just 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 practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Degrees Online

Foley Alabama woman taking physical therapist courses onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so 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 near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Foley AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than comparable on-campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning a few of your initial queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Foley AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you need to make certain that you choose the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 enroll in an online college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact some Foley AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your college options. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Foley AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Foley AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Foley health care community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

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

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Foley AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something 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 be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT colleges offer some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department and find out what type of assistance is obtainable. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy school you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Foley AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Foley Online Physical Therapy Degrees

Choose the Best Foley Physical Therapist School

Choosing the ideal physical therapist school is an important initial decision you need to make to start a gratifying career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are other important questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit different colleges to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Foley Alabama.


 

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