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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Mobile Alabama

Mobile Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Mobile AL is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the proper education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate the ones you are considering to ensure they will supply a quality education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is choose a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered besides cost and location. But before we discuss 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Mobile Alabama physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, including Mobile AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Mobile AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Mobile Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Mobile AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to finish and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion 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 phased out and is no longer available in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Colleges Online

Mobile Alabama woman taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of 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 school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Mobile AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you probably have made a decision regarding a few of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapist degree you intend to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Mobile AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to make certain that you enroll in the college that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before 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 agency. As earlier mentioned, 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 may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can look into 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 organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Mobile AL physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college selections. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Mobile AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the college has a wide network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you enroll in provides both superior 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have partnerships with Mobile AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to receive hands on experience 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 students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Mobile health care community and help with job placement once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Mobile AL residence. Individuals who have chosen 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 concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department and see what kind of help is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating 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 must verify that the physical therapist program you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Mobile AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Mobile Physical Therapist Degrees

Choose the Right Mobile Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the best physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you need to make to begin a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are additional relevant 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 many variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may want to visit different colleges to see their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me accomplish 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 field so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Mobile Alabama.


 

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