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

Huntsville Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Huntsville AL is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are considering to make certain they will provide a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered along with cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Huntsville Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, such as Huntsville AL hospitals, health clinics, 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 patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Huntsville AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering getting 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 extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Huntsville Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Huntsville AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs 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 typically a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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 overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in a number of 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 available in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Degrees Online

Huntsville Alabama woman taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school 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 Huntsville AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition may be significantly less than comparable on campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding some of your initial queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Huntsville AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school options. Also, you need to make sure that you enroll in the school that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. 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 enroll in an online program, 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. Along with ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can research a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact some Huntsville AL physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your school options. It might also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Huntsville AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you select furnishes both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every 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 vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are assessing have partnerships with Huntsville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Huntsville healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Huntsville AL residence. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose 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 often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT schools offer some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid office and find out what type of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Huntsville AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Huntsville Online Physical Therapist Majors

Choose the Right Huntsville Physical Therapy School

Selecting the right physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you must make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that many factors will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to visit different campuses to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the right choice. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Huntsville Alabama.


 

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