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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Hueytown Alabama

Hueytown Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Hueytown AL is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health 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 work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the necessary 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 prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate those you are looking at to make sure they will supply a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. 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 must be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Hueytown Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Hueytown AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Hueytown AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Hueytown Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, 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 prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Hueytown AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to complete and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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 3 years to complete, making the total commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in some states for licensing also.

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 holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Colleges Online

Hueytown Alabama female student taking physical therapist courses onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Hueytown AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition might be somewhat lower than similar on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools 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.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you most likely have come to decision concerning a few of your initial queries, like the type of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Hueytown AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you choose the program that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate 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 earn 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 just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call some Hueytown AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college options. It might also be a good idea to check with 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 therapy schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Hueytown AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are reviewing have relationships with Hueytown AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Hueytown medical community and help with job placement after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Hueytown AL residence. Students who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might 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 to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT schools offer some type of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid office and see what type of aid is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy program you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Hueytown AL area, verify 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 carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Hueytown Physical Therapy Courses

Choose the Best Hueytown Physical Therapist School

Selecting the best physical therapist program is a necessary first decision you need to make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that numerous variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may want to go to each of the schools to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Hueytown Alabama.


 

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