Home >> Alabama >> Madison >> Physical Therapist Schools


Get Free Information on Physical Therapist Degrees Madison AL 35756

How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Madison Alabama

Madison Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Madison AL is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the necessary education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate the ones you are considering to ensure they will deliver a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Madison Alabama DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Madison AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Madison AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Madison Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is available 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 prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Madison 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 earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training 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 preliminary 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 mandated if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an important component along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in a number of 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. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Programs

Madison Alabama female student taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as common as the on campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Madison AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition can be significantly less than comparable on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, like the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Madison AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Moreover, you want to make sure that you choose the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously stated, 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 program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call several Madison AL physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college selections. It might also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Madison AL area? If a program 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 school has a wide network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are interested in have associations with Madison AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Madison health care community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy 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 ultimate determination. 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 as well.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Madison AL home. Students who have decided 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. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might 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 live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT schools offer some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and see what kind of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy school you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Madison AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Madison Physical Therapy Courses

Enroll in the Right Madison Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the right physical therapy school is a necessary initial decision you have to make to begin a gratifying career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that a number of factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit different colleges to see their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Madison Alabama.


 

Madison Physical Therapy Schools | Main | Madison Physical Therapy Degrees