Home >> Alabama >> Leeds >> Physical Therapist Degrees


Receive Free Info on Physical Therapy Training Leeds AL 35004

How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Leeds Alabama

Leeds Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Leeds AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the proper training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are considering to make sure they will provide a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered 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 what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Leeds Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including Leeds AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. 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 stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Leeds AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Leeds Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Leeds 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 obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to ready students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of at least 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). After earning 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 important component in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Schools Online

Leeds Alabama female student taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online part of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Leeds AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary queries, like 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 invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Leeds AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to look into additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you need to make certain that you choose the college that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can research a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call several Leeds AL physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college options. It might also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Leeds AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the college has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you select furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are evaluating have partnerships with Leeds AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Leeds healthcare community and assist with job placement once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Leeds AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT schools offer some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department and find out what type of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist college you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Leeds AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Leeds Physical Therapist Training

Choose the Right Leeds Physical Therapy School

Choosing the right physical therapy program is a necessary first decision you need to make to begin a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are other critical questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to each of the colleges to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important 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 have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Leeds Alabama.


 

Leeds Physical Therapy Degrees | Main | Leeds Physical Therapy Major Programs