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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Meridianville Alabama

Meridianville Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Meridianville AL is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the proper education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are considering to ensure they will deliver a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to 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 cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Meridianville Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, including Meridianville AL hospitals, health clinics, 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 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 develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Meridianville AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Meridianville Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and commonly 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 finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential element along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in several states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Degrees

Meridianville Alabama female student taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Meridianville AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding several of your initial queries, including the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Meridianville AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you pick the college that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you enroll in an online program, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for 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 Meridianville AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your college selections. It may also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy schools you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Meridianville AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you enroll in provides both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements 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 program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are interested in have associations with Meridianville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Meridianville health care community and help with job placement after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final 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 therapy program also.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Meridianville AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble 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 decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial aid office and see what type of assistance is offered. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist program you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Meridianville AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Meridianville Online Physical Therapy Courses

Enroll in the Best Meridianville Physical Therapist School

Selecting the ideal physical therapy program is an important initial decision you need to make to begin a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are other relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your final decision. You might want to visit different colleges to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me accomplish 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 ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Meridianville Alabama.


 

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