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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist School Near Monroeville Alabama

Monroeville Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Monroeville AL is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are thinking about to make certain they will provide a quality education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant 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 cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Monroeville Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Monroeville AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers 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 mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Monroeville AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Monroeville Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options 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 target 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 available to prospective students in the Monroeville AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order 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 complete, making the total investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an important component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in several states for licensing also.

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 available in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Monroeville Alabama female student taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Monroeville AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat lower than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary questions, including the kind of physical therapy 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 so many PT schools within the Monroeville AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you pick the school that is best for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can research a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call a few Monroeville AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your school options. It might also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Monroeville AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the college 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 school you choose provides both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have associations with Monroeville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Monroeville healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Monroeville AL home. Individuals who have decided 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 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 might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT colleges provide some type of financial support to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and see what kind of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately 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 Monroeville AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Monroeville Physical Therapy Majors

Choose the Right Monroeville Physical Therapist School

Picking the right physical therapist college is an important initial decision you must make to start a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you pick should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may want to visit each of the schools to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Monroeville Alabama.


 

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