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

Fort Payne Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Fort Payne AL is an essential first step to starting a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the appropriate training and education. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are looking at to make sure they will deliver a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about 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?

Fort Payne Alabama physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Fort Payne AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Fort Payne AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Fort Payne Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Fort Payne AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually provided by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 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 three years to complete, making the total commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential element along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in several 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 available in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Programs

Fort Payne Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as common as the on campus options, there are a number of 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 a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Fort Payne AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition can be significantly less than comparable on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning several of your initial questions, including the type of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Fort Payne AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to research other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Moreover, you need to make certain that you pick the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are looking at 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 enroll in an online college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple 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 rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Fort Payne AL physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your program selections. 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 colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Fort Payne AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a curriculum 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are interested in have associations with Fort Payne AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to get practical experience 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 develop professional relationships in the Fort Payne health care community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools 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 an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Fort Payne AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Most DPT colleges offer some form of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Fort Payne AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need 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.

Learn More About Fort Payne Physical Therapy Programs

Choose the Right Fort Payne Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the best physical therapy program is a necessary initial decision you must make to begin a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are other important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that a number of variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to different campuses to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me realize 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 ideal selection. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Fort Payne Alabama.


 

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