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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Forestdale Alabama

Forestdale Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Forestdale AL is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical 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 provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are considering to make certain they will provide a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Forestdale Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, such as Forestdale AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Forestdale AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is rather 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 Degree Options

Forestdale Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is offered 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 readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Forestdale AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most 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 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely 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 licensed physical therapists having 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 Therapy Schools Online

Forestdale Alabama woman taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Forestdale AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition may be somewhat 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 advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning several of your initial queries, like the type of physical therapist degree you would like 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 Forestdale AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you pick the program that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. 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 select an online college, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting 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 as well. Get in touch with some Forestdale AL physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your program options. 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 Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Forestdale AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps excellent. It also affirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you select 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 every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are interested in have associations with Forestdale AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Forestdale healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Forestdale AL home. Students who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear 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 may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Most DPT colleges provide some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid office and find out what kind of aid is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy program you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Forestdale AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Forestdale Physical Therapist Courses

Enroll in the Right Forestdale Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the right physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that numerous factors will guide you to your final decision. You may want to visit different colleges to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Forestdale Alabama.


 

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