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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy School Near Harvest Alabama

Harvest Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Harvest AL is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the proper education and training. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are looking at to make sure they will furnish a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated along with location and cost. 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Harvest Alabama physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Harvest AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. 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 experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Harvest AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Harvest Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is attainable 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 readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Harvest AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually provided by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to ready students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a licensed practicing 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 complete, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in some 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 available in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Harvest Alabama woman taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Harvest AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition might be significantly less than similar on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning several of your initial queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Harvest AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you want to be sure that you enroll in the program that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier 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 program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Harvest AL physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college selections. It may also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Harvest AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps excellent. It also affirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you select furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies 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 therapist program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have relationships with Harvest AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Harvest health care community and assist with job placement once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Harvest AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have 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 Aid Offered? Most DPT colleges provide some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid department and see what kind of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist program you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Harvest AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Harvest Physical Therapist Schools

Choose the Best Harvest Physical Therapy School

Selecting the best physical therapy program is a necessary first decision you have to make to begin a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are other important questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you toward your final decision. You may decide to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Harvest Alabama.


 

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