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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Meridianville Alabama

Meridianville Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Meridianville AL is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the necessary education and training. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a college simply 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Meridianville Alabama physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, including Meridianville AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Meridianville AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Meridianville Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as 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 degrees are typically provided by community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to ready students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, 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 attainable in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Colleges Online

Meridianville Alabama female student taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Meridianville AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition might be significantly less than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

By now you probably have made a decision concerning a few of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Meridianville AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to research additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Also, you need to make certain that you enroll in the college that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at have earned 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 choose an online college, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call some Meridianville 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 school selections. It might also be a good idea 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 Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Meridianville AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also affirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you select provides both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing have associations with Meridianville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Meridianville health care community and assist with job placement once licensed.

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

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Meridianville AL home. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. 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 normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT schools offer some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial aid office and find out what type of help is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might 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 especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Meridianville AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Meridianville Online Physical Therapist Training

Choose the Right Meridianville Physical Therapist School

Choosing the right physical therapy college is an important first decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you select should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that a number of factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may want to go to different campuses to view their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Meridianville Alabama.


 

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