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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Lanett Alabama

Lanett Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Lanett AL is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the proper education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will furnish a quality education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Lanett Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, including Lanett AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers 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 touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Lanett AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Lanett Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on 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 available to prospective students in the Lanett AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to prepare students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to finish 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the total commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not just 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. A number of licensed 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 Therapist Online Schools

Lanett Alabama female student taking physical therapy training onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Lanett AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition may be somewhat lower than comparable on campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you probably have come to decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Lanett AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to look into other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college options. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you choose the school that is right for you. That's why we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier stated, 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 therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact some Lanett AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your school selections. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Lanett AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you select provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are reviewing have associations with Lanett AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to get 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 assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Lanett medical community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they select will need to be within travelling distance of their Lanett AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Most DPT colleges provide some form of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of help is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy program you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Lanett AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Lanett Physical Therapy Schools

Enroll in the Best Lanett Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the ideal physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you need to make to start a gratifying career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you pick should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that many variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might want to go to different campuses to see their facilities and talk to 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 adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Lanett Alabama.


 

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