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

Harvest Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Harvest AL is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the necessary training and education. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate those you are looking at to ensure they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered in addition to 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 helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying locations, such as Harvest AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Harvest AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Harvest Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Harvest 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 obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by community or junior colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to finish and commonly include 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the total commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an intregal element along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, 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 eliminated 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 before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Colleges

Harvest Alabama woman taking physical therapy courses onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure 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 an available internship. However, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Harvest AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat lower than similar on campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

By now you probably have come to decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since 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 college choices. Moreover, you want to be sure that you select the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. 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 college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with several Harvest AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your program selections. It may also be prudent 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 Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Harvest AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you select provides both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with 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 performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have partnerships with Harvest AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Harvest health care community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at 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 final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Harvest AL residence. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid office and find out what kind of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist program you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Harvest AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative 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 work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Harvest Online Physical Therapist Programs

Enroll in the Right Harvest Physical Therapist School

Picking the best physical therapist program is a necessary first decision you must make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your final decision. You might decide to go to each of the colleges to see their facilities and talk to current 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 following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best selection. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Harvest Alabama.


 

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