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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Forestdale Alabama

Forestdale Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Forestdale AL is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate 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 selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are thinking about to make certain they will supply a quality education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to 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 what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Forestdale Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including Forestdale AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Forestdale AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Forestdale Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate 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 emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Forestdale AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an important component in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in several states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Schools Online

Forestdale Alabama female student taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Forestdale AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition can be significantly lower than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number 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 attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you probably have made a decision regarding several of your initial questions, such as the type of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Forestdale AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you need to make sure that you choose the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online school, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can research a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Forestdale AL physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your school 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 Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. One 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, how many of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Forestdale AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps excellent. It also affirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you choose provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have associations with Forestdale AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Forestdale healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few 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 therapy college they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Forestdale AL home. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even 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 don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are considering have a financial aid office and find out what kind of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy school you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Forestdale AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Forestdale Physical Therapist Courses

Choose the Right Forestdale Physical Therapist School

Selecting the ideal physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you need to make to launch a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are other important questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your final decision. You might want to go to each of the schools to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following 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 achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Forestdale Alabama.


 

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