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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Fort Payne Alabama

Fort Payne Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Fort Payne AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are looking at to make certain they will supply a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated along with cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Fort Payne Alabama DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, including Fort Payne AL hospitals, health clinics, 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 earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Fort Payne AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Fort Payne Alabama DPT working with man in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates 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 for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of at least 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 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in a number of 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 offered in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Fort Payne Alabama woman taking physical therapist courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Fort Payne AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition may be somewhat less than similar on campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you probably have come to decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Fort Payne AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to look into additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you need to make certain that you enroll in the school that is right for you. That's why we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously mentioned, 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 college, it can 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 just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with a few Fort Payne AL physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your college options. It may also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy colleges you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Fort Payne AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you choose furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that supports 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have relationships with Fort Payne AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Fort Payne health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching 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 final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Fort Payne AL residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college 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 usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? The majority of DPT colleges provide some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid office and see what kind of help is offered. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy program you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Fort Payne AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Fort Payne Physical Therapy Courses

Choose the Right Fort Payne Physical Therapist School

Choosing the best physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you must 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 school you choose should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are additional relevant questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that numerous variables will lead you toward your final decision. You might want to go to each of the colleges to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Fort Payne Alabama.


 

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