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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Moody Alabama

Moody Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Moody AL is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate the ones you are looking at to make certain they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered besides location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Moody Alabama physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Moody AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Moody AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage 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 considering entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Offered

Moody Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is attainable 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 advance to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Moody AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program also must 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 seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an important element in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Colleges

Moody Alabama female student taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are many 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 combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Moody AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition can be significantly lower than similar on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding several of your preliminary questions, including the type 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 because there are numerous PT schools within the Moody AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you select the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are considering 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 choose an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Call several Moody AL physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college options. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two useful statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Moody AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you choose furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are interested in have associations with Moody AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Moody healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. 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 Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Moody AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance office and see what type of aid is available. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Moody AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Moody Physical Therapist Schools

Choose the Best Moody Physical Therapist School

Picking the right physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you have to make to begin a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are other important questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that many factors will lead you to your final decision. You may decide to visit different colleges to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Moody Alabama.


 

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