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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Millbrook Alabama

Millbrook Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Millbrook AL is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are looking at to make certain they will supply a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we discuss 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 is a Physical Therapist?

Millbrook Alabama physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in varying settings, such as Millbrook AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Millbrook AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with 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 often 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

Millbrook Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Millbrook AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or may 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 programs are usually provided by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to complete and commonly incorporate 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 also must 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 commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Schools Online

Millbrook Alabama female student taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Millbrook AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition can be significantly less than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you most likely have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary queries, including the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Millbrook AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to look into additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you choose the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools 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 schools you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 select an online college, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with a few Millbrook AL physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your school options. It might also be a good idea 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 College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Millbrook AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the program has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Millbrook AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to obtain 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 assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Millbrook healthcare community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Millbrook AL residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need 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 live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial support to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department and see what kind of help is available. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy school you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Millbrook AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Millbrook Online Physical Therapy Courses

Choose the Right Millbrook Physical Therapist School

Picking the ideal physical therapist school is an important initial decision you must make to begin a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional critical questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that many variables will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to go to each of the campuses to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Millbrook Alabama.


 

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