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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Harvest Alabama

Harvest Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Harvest AL is an essential first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are considering to make sure they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered besides 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 the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Harvest Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, including Harvest AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Harvest AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Offered

Harvest Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Harvest AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to complete and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also 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 total investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not just 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. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Colleges Online

Harvest Alabama woman taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Harvest AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary questions, like the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Harvest AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Also, you want to make sure that you choose the college that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional 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 enroll in an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing 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 College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with a few Harvest AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your school options. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Harvest AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you select furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have associations with Harvest AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Harvest healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor 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 therapy program also.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Harvest AL residence. Those who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? The majority of DPT schools supply some type of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid department and find out what type of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy program you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Harvest AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Harvest Online Physical Therapist Training

Enroll in the Right Harvest Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the ideal physical therapist college is an important first decision you need to make to begin a gratifying career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that numerous factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit different colleges to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Harvest Alabama.


 

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