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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Hoover Alabama

Hoover Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Hoover AL is an essential first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the appropriate education and training. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are looking at to make sure they will furnish a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not 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 relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we talk about 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Hoover Alabama DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Hoover AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Hoover AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is quite 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 Therapy Degrees Offered

Hoover Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is offered 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 readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Hoover AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to finish and usually include 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 finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential component in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in several 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 available in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Colleges Online

Hoover Alabama woman taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Hoover AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition can be significantly lower than similar on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

By now you probably have come to decision regarding several of your preliminary questions, including the kind of physical therapist degree you would like 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 schools within the Hoover AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to research additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you want to make certain that you select the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional 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 college, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Hoover AL physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your school selections. 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 College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Hoover 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 perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you select provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Hoover AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Hoover healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools 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 determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Hoover AL home. Those who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Most DPT colleges provide some form of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of aid is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy school you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Hoover AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Hoover Online Physical Therapy Degrees

Enroll in the Right Hoover Physical Therapy School

Picking the best physical therapy school is an important first decision you need to make to begin a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you pick should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are other critical questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your final decision. You might decide to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program 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 appropriate choice. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Hoover Alabama.


 

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