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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Lanett Alabama

Lanett Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Lanett AL is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the appropriate education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are thinking about to make certain they will supply a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we cover 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Lanett Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, including Lanett AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Lanett AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Offered

Lanett Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Lanett AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often made available by community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to finish and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a licensed practicing 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 three years to complete, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in several states for licensing also.

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 United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Colleges

Lanett Alabama woman taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as common as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, 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 cases more affordable. Tuition might be significantly lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

At this point you probably have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary queries, including the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Lanett AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to look into other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you enroll in the school that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier mentioned, 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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning 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. Contact some Lanett AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your school selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Lanett AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also confirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you choose furnishes both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are assessing have relationships with Lanett AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Lanett medical community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor 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 therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Lanett AL home. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally 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 school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT colleges offer some form of financial support to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid department and find out what type of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy school you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Lanett AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Lanett Physical Therapy Degrees

Choose the Right Lanett Physical Therapy School

Selecting the best physical therapy school is a necessary initial decision you need to make to begin a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you pick should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are additional critical questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that numerous variables will lead you to your final decision. You might want to visit different colleges to see their facilities and speak with current 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 selection. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Lanett Alabama.


 

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