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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Montevallo Alabama

Montevallo Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Montevallo AL is an essential first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the proper education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are looking at to make certain they will furnish a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered along with cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Montevallo Alabama physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Montevallo AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Montevallo AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Montevallo Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is offered 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 progress to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Montevallo AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to complete and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion 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 offered in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Colleges Online

Montevallo Alabama woman taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as common 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 structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Montevallo AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be significantly lower than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Montevallo AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Moreover, you need to make certain that you enroll in the program that is best for you. That's why we have put together a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously stated, 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 program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can research a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call some Montevallo AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your program selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Montevallo AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the school has a large network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you choose furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. 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 tests.

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

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Montevallo AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT colleges provide some form of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy program you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Montevallo AL area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Montevallo Physical Therapist Colleges

Enroll in the Right Montevallo Physical Therapy School

Picking the right physical therapy college is an important initial decision you need to make to launch a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are other important questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that many variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to each of the schools to see their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Montevallo Alabama.


 

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