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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Lanett Alabama

Lanett Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Lanett AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are looking at to make certain they will provide a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated along with cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Lanett Alabama physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, including Lanett 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 the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Lanett AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy field, 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 Degree Options

Lanett Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Lanett AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as 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 GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to ready candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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 three years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in some 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 attainable in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Colleges

Lanett Alabama female student taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy 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 near the school campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Lanett AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition can be significantly lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can 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

By now you probably have come to decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Lanett AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to explore other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you enroll in the program that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are considering 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 can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can research a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact some Lanett 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 school options. 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 schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Lanett AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even exceptional. It also affirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you choose furnishes both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. 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. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are interested in have partnerships with Lanett AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Lanett health care community and help with job placement once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are looking at what the average student to teacher 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 an opportunity to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Lanett AL home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even 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 frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid office and find out what kind of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist college you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Lanett AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Lanett Physical Therapy Colleges

Enroll in the Right Lanett Physical Therapist School

Selecting the right physical therapist college is an important first decision you need to make to start a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that many variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might want to visit different schools to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed 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 selection. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Lanett Alabama.


 

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