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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist School Near Guntersville Alabama

Guntersville Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Guntersville AL is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the proper education and training. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are thinking about to make sure they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you should not 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 relevant qualifications that must be evaluated along with cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Guntersville Alabama physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, such as Guntersville AL hospitals, health clinics, 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 earlier mentioned, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Guntersville AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is rather 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

Guntersville Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Guntersville AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 three years to complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion 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 attainable in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Schools

Guntersville Alabama female student taking physical therapist courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Guntersville AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition might be somewhat less than comparable on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you probably have come to decision regarding a few of your initial questions, such as the type of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Guntersville AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school options. Moreover, you want to make certain that you choose the school that is best for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. 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 obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify 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 may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Guntersville AL physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your school options. It might also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Guntersville AL area? If a college 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 assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you select provides both superior 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 required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are assessing have relationships with Guntersville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Guntersville medical community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Guntersville AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT schools offer some type of financial support to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance office and see what type of help is obtainable. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy college you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Guntersville AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, 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 procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Guntersville Online Physical Therapist Schools

Enroll in the Best Guntersville Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the right physical therapy college is an important first decision you need to make to start a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are additional relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that numerous factors will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to visit different campuses 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 practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Guntersville Alabama.


 

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