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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Foley Alabama

Foley Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Foley AL is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will deliver a quality education and comply with your state's licensing standards. 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 the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered 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 the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Foley Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including Foley 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 individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Foley AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Foley Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Foley AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by junior or community colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to ready students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in several 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 available in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Foley Alabama woman taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Foley AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition may be significantly less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures 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 right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding some of your initial questions, including the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Foley AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college options. Also, you need to make sure that you choose the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are looking at 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 select an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can research a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact several Foley AL physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your school selections. It might also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate 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 Foley AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students obtain 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 requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have relationships with Foley AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Foley medical community and help with job placement after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Foley AL home. Students who have decided 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 importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and find out what type of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy program you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Foley AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Foley Physical Therapy Training

Enroll in the Best Foley Physical Therapy School

Picking the right physical therapy school is an important initial decision you need to make to start a rewarding career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you choose should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional relevant questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to different campuses to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Foley Alabama.


 

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