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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy School Near Moody Alabama

Moody Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Moody AL is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people 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 necessary training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are looking at to make certain they will supply a quality education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Moody Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, including Moody AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Moody AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Moody Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become 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 summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Moody AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to ready students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in several 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 attainable in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Programs

Moody Alabama woman taking physical therapy courses onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Moody AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition might be somewhat lower than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you probably have come to decision concerning some of your initial questions, including the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Moody AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college options. Also, you want to be sure that you choose the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 enroll in an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact several Moody AL physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your program options. It may also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Moody AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also affirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you enroll in provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are evaluating have relationships with Moody AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates develop professional connections in the Moody healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching what the typical 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 an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Moody AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT schools offer some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance department and see what type of help is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy program you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Moody AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Moody Online Physical Therapist Programs

Enroll in the Best Moody Physical Therapist School

Selecting the best physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you have to make to start a rewarding career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you choose should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that a number of factors will lead you to your final decision. You may decide to go to different colleges to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me reach 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 ideal selection. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Moody Alabama.


 

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