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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Moody Alabama

Moody Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Moody AL is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are looking at to ensure they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered along with 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 the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Moody Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, including Moody AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Moody AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Moody Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Moody AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, 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 practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Schools Online

Moody Alabama female student taking physical therapist courses onlineWhile not as common as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature 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 an available internship. However, the online part 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 many instances more economical. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding several of your preliminary questions, such as the type of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Moody AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Moreover, you need to make sure that you select the school that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are considering have received 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 college, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with several Moody AL physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your school selections. It may 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 colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school'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 community is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you choose provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements fluctuate 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? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Moody AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Moody health care community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they select will have to be within driving distance of their Moody AL residence. Students who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep 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 need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? The majority of DPT schools offer some form of financial support to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial aid office and find out what kind of help is available. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.

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

Find Out More About Moody Physical Therapist Schools

Choose the Right Moody Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the best physical therapist program is a necessary initial decision you must make to start a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are additional critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your final decision. You might want to visit different campuses to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Moody Alabama.


 

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