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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Midfield Alabama

Midfield Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Midfield AL is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are considering to make sure they will provide a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered along with cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Midfield Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in varying settings, such as Midfield AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen 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
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Midfield AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Midfield Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Midfield AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a licensed practicing 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 total investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer available 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 existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Colleges Online

Midfield Alabama female student taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as common as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Midfield AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition might be somewhat lower than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you probably have come to decision concerning a few of your initial questions, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Midfield AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to be sure that you select the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have earned 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 college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can research a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call a few Midfield AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your program selections. It may also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Midfield AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you enroll in provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have partnerships with Midfield AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Midfield healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing 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 ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Midfield AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial support to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid office and find out what kind of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist program you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Midfield AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Midfield Online Physical Therapy Degrees

Choose the Right Midfield Physical Therapy School

Selecting the ideal physical therapist school is a necessary first decision you need to make to start a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are other important questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your final decision. You may want to visit different campuses to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the best choice. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Midfield Alabama.


 

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