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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Millbrook Alabama

Millbrook Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Millbrook AL is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will provide a quality education and satisfy 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 must be evaluated besides 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 what the educational options are.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Millbrook Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, including Millbrook 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 previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Millbrook AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Millbrook Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Millbrook AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as 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 be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to finish and often include 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 finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential component in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely 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 attainable in the United States. Some practicing 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 instituted.

Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Millbrook Alabama woman taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Millbrook AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

By now you probably have made a decision concerning some of your initial questions, like the kind of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Millbrook AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to look into other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you need to make certain that you choose the program that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Millbrook AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your program options. 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 colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Millbrook AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you choose furnishes both superior 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 school. Although licensing requirements differ 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? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have relationships with Millbrook AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Millbrook healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching 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 final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Millbrook AL home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? The majority of DPT colleges offer some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid department and see what type of help is available. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Millbrook AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Millbrook Physical Therapist Programs

Enroll in the Right Millbrook Physical Therapist School

Choosing the ideal physical therapy college is a necessary first decision you must make to begin a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that numerous variables will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to go to each of the campuses to view their facilities and talk with 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 adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Millbrook Alabama.


 

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