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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Midfield Alabama

Midfield Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Midfield AL is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the necessary training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are thinking about to make certain they will supply a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Midfield Alabama physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, such as Midfield AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, 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 design a course of treatment to address 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:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Midfield AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Midfield Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Midfield AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to complete and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a licensed practicing 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 three years to finish, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor 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 eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Colleges Online

Midfield Alabama female student taking physical therapist courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Midfield AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat less than comparable on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning some of your preliminary questions, such as the type of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Midfield AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college options. Also, you want to make certain that you select the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national 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 select an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact several Midfield AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your school selections. It may 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 School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students left because of dissatisfaction 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 Midfield AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also confirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment after graduation.

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

Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have associations with Midfield AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Midfield medical community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. 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 students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they select will have to be within driving distance of their Midfield AL home. Those who have opted 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 consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT schools provide some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid office and see what kind of assistance is offered. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapist program you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Midfield AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Midfield Online Physical Therapy Courses

Enroll in the Best Midfield Physical Therapy School

Picking the ideal physical therapist program is a necessary first decision you must make to start a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might want to visit each of the schools 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 practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Midfield Alabama.


 

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