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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Fultondale Alabama

Fultondale Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Fultondale AL is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the proper training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are considering to ensure they will furnish a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered besides cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Fultondale Alabama physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, such as Fultondale 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 stated, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Fultondale AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite 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 Therapist Degrees Available

Fultondale Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees offered for students to pursue 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. Below are short descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Fultondale AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to prepare students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a practicing licensed 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 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential element in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment 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 phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Degrees

Fultondale Alabama female student taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Fultondale AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition might be significantly less than similar on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

At this point you probably have made a decision regarding a few of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Fultondale AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to look into other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college options. Also, you need to be sure that you choose the program that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 choose an online school, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for 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 several Fultondale AL physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your program selections. It might also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Fultondale AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you enroll in furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have relationships with Fultondale AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Fultondale health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Fultondale AL residence. Students who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT colleges provide some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid office and find out what type of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist college you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Fultondale AL area, confirm that they are offered. 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 carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Fultondale Physical Therapist Colleges

Choose the Best Fultondale Physical Therapist School

Choosing the right physical therapy program is an important first decision you have to make to launch a gratifying career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are other important questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that a number of variables will guide you toward your final decision. You may decide to go to each of the schools to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me accomplish 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 ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Fultondale Alabama.


 

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