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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy School Near Lanett Alabama

Lanett Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Lanett AL is an essential first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the necessary education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will provide a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, 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 settings, including Lanett AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop 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 necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Lanett AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Lanett Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Lanett AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often provided by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to finish and commonly incorporate 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 also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not just 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 United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

Lanett Alabama woman taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Lanett AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, 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 have to explore other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Also, you need to make sure that you pick the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. 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 enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call several Lanett AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your program 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 submitted against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the school'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 medical care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are reviewing have partnerships with Lanett AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Lanett health care community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the average student to teacher 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 converse 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 need to be within commuting distance of their Lanett 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 importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? The majority of DPT colleges provide some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy school you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Lanett AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Lanett Physical Therapist Degrees

Enroll in the Right Lanett Physical Therapist School

Choosing the ideal physical therapy college is an important first decision you must make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are other critical questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to different campuses to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college 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 best choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Lanett Alabama.


 

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