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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Meadowbrook Alabama

Meadowbrook Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Meadowbrook AL is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are looking at 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 school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated along with 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?

Meadowbrook Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in varying settings, including Meadowbrook 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 earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Meadowbrook AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Meadowbrook Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is offered 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 readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Meadowbrook AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often made available by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to complete and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment 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 attainable in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists holding 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 Colleges Online

Meadowbrook Alabama female student taking physical therapist courses onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Meadowbrook AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you most likely have come to decision regarding several of your preliminary queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you would like to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Meadowbrook AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you choose the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask 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 school, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain 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? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact some Meadowbrook AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your school options. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Meadowbrook AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you select provides both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have relationships with Meadowbrook AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to obtain practical 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 help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Meadowbrook health care community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Meadowbrook AL home. Individuals 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 importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid department and find out what type of help is obtainable. 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 offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy school you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Meadowbrook AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, 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 obligations.

Find Out More About Meadowbrook Physical Therapy Courses

Enroll in the Right Meadowbrook Physical Therapist School

Choosing the best physical therapy college is an important first decision you need to make to start a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that numerous variables will guide 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 important question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Meadowbrook Alabama.


 

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