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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Foley Alabama

Foley Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Foley AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will provide a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we discuss 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?

Foley Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, including Foley AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Foley AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Foley Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees train 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 degrees are usually offered by community or junior colleges, and require 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 therapy training to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to finish and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, 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. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Colleges Online

Foley Alabama woman taking physical therapist courses onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Foley AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition may be somewhat less than similar on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary questions, including the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Foley AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to look into additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to make sure that you select the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously 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 program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT college'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 also. Call several Foley AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your program selections. It may also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Foley AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or even exceptional. It also confirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you choose furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are assessing have associations with Foley AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Foley healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Foley AL home. Students who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required 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 don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT schools offer some form of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial aid office and find out what type of help is obtainable. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist school you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Foley AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Foley Online Physical Therapy Training

Choose the Right Foley Physical Therapy School

Picking the right physical therapist program is an important first decision you need to make to begin a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that numerous variables will lead you to your final decision. You may want to visit different campuses 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 selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Foley Alabama.


 

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