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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Hoover Alabama

Hoover Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Hoover AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally 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 essential to investigate the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Hoover Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, including Hoover AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

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

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Hoover Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Hoover 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. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often offered by community or junior colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to complete and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want 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 commitment seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in several 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 USA. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Hoover Alabama female student taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated 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 curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Hoover AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, like the type of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Hoover AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to research other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you select the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are considering 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 school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact a few Hoover AL physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your program options. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Hoover AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or even exceptional. It also confirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you choose provides both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria 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 college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have relationships with Hoover AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional connections in the Hoover healthcare community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes permit 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 final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students 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 select will need to be within driving distance of their Hoover AL home. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area 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 might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT colleges offer some type of financial support to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and see what kind of help is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm 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 classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Hoover AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Hoover Physical Therapy Courses

Choose the Best Hoover Physical Therapy School

Selecting the best physical therapy school is a necessary initial decision you have to make to begin a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you pick should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your final decision. You may want to visit different schools to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program 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 education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Hoover Alabama.


 

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