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How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Montevallo Alabama

Montevallo Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Montevallo AL is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical 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 must receive the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally be 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 evaluate the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will supply a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Montevallo Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Montevallo AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Montevallo AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite 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

Montevallo Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Montevallo AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in several 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 phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Colleges Online

Montevallo Alabama woman taking physical therapy courses onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so 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 necessitates that the student live near the college campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Montevallo AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition may be significantly less than comparable on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding several of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Montevallo AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to look into other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you enroll in the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. 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 select an online college, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you receive 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? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with several Montevallo AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your program selections. It might also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two useful statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Montevallo AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or even exceptional. It also affirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you select provides both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria 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 therapist 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 supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have associations with Montevallo AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Montevallo medical community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers 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 therapist schools you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. 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 as well.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Montevallo AL home. Those who have decided 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. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program 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 frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance department and see what kind of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Montevallo AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Montevallo Physical Therapy Degrees

Choose the Best Montevallo Physical Therapist School

Selecting the ideal physical therapist program is an important first decision you must make to begin a rewarding career in the healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you pick should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that numerous factors will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to visit each of the colleges to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Montevallo Alabama.


 

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