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How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Jasper Alabama

Jasper Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Jasper AL is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the appropriate education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to research those you are thinking about to ensure they will deliver a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered along with location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Jasper Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, such as Jasper AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Jasper AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Jasper Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Jasper AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become 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 qualify 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 normally a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to complete and commonly incorporate 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 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 finish, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential element in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Programs Online

Jasper Alabama female student taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Jasper AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition may be somewhat less than comparable on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

By now you probably have made a decision concerning several of your preliminary questions, including the type of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Jasper AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to look into other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Also, you want to be sure that you choose the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are looking at have received 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 choose an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for 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 also. Get in touch with some Jasper AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your college options. It may also be a good idea 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 Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest 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 assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Jasper AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you choose provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every 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 differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have partnerships with Jasper AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Jasper healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized 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 monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Jasper AL residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Most DPT colleges provide some form of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid department and see what type of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Jasper AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Jasper Physical Therapy Courses

Enroll in the Right Jasper Physical Therapist School

Selecting the best physical therapy program is a necessary initial decision you need to make to launch a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are additional relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that a number of variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may want to go to different schools to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Jasper Alabama.


 

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