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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Meadowbrook Alabama

Meadowbrook Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Meadowbrook AL is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will deliver a quality education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated besides location and cost. 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's Job Description?

Meadowbrook Alabama physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying locations, including Meadowbrook AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Meadowbrook AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage 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 entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Meadowbrook Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Meadowbrook AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often provided by community or junior colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to ready candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order to become a licensed practicing 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 3 years to complete, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential element along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not only 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 offered in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Programs

Meadowbrook Alabama female student taking physical therapy training onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Meadowbrook AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition might be somewhat less than comparable on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding several of your preliminary queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Meadowbrook AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to research other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you choose the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier 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 select an online college, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with some Meadowbrook AL physical therapist 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 school selections. It might also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Meadowbrook AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you select provides both excellent training and a course of study 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are interested in have partnerships with Meadowbrook AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Meadowbrook healthcare community and assist with job placement once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Meadowbrook AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT schools offer some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and find out what type of assistance is available. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy program you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Meadowbrook AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Meadowbrook Physical Therapist Programs

Choose the Best Meadowbrook Physical Therapist School

Selecting the right physical therapy program is an important first decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you pick should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other important questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your final decision. You may want to go to each of the colleges to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental 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 Meadowbrook Alabama.


 

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