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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy School Near Jasper Alabama

Jasper Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Jasper AL is an essential first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, 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 necessary to evaluate those you are thinking about to make certain they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered along with cost and location. 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 is a Physical Therapist?

Jasper Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Jasper AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression 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
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Jasper AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering going into 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 prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Offered

Jasper Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options available for students 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 summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Jasper AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often made available by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the curriculum.
  • 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 qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to finish and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order 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 overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not just 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 available in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Colleges Online

Jasper Alabama female student taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as common as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Jasper AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat less than comparable on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

At this point you probably have come to decision concerning a few of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Jasper AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you need to make sure that you select the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously 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 school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Jasper AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your college options. It might also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest 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 hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Jasper AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even exceptional. It also affirms that the school has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you enroll in provides both exceptional 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. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are interested in have partnerships with Jasper AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional connections in the Jasper health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Jasper AL home. Students who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Most DPT schools provide some type of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of assistance is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Jasper AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Jasper Physical Therapy Schools

Choose the Right Jasper Physical Therapist School

Selecting the right physical therapy school is a necessary initial decision you need to make to begin a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you choose should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that many factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to different colleges to view their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Jasper Alabama.


 

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