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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Madison Alabama

Madison Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Madison AL is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the proper training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will deliver a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that must 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 is a Physical Therapist?

Madison Alabama physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, such as Madison AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. 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 suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Madison AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Madison Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short summaries of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Madison AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can 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 junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in some 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 available in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Colleges Online

Madison Alabama female student taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus options, 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 incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Madison AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be significantly less than comparable on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

By now you most likely have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Madison AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to make certain that you choose the college that is best for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are looking at have earned 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 enroll in an online college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact some Madison AL physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your program options. It may also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Madison AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the school has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you enroll in furnishes both exceptional 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. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have associations with Madison AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Madison medical community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Madison AL residence. Students who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose 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 often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and see what type of aid is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist program you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Madison AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Madison Online Physical Therapist Majors

Choose the Best Madison Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the ideal physical therapist school is a necessary first decision you must make to begin a gratifying career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you pick should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that many variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might want to visit different schools to see their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me accomplish 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 best choice. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Madison Alabama.


 

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