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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Oneonta Alabama

Oneonta Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Oneonta AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are considering to make certain they will provide a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered besides cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Oneonta Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, such as Oneonta AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression 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
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Oneonta AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Oneonta Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Oneonta AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by community or junior colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a licensed practicing 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 3 years to finish, making the total commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in a number of 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 phased out and is no longer offered in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Colleges

Oneonta Alabama woman taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Oneonta AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition may be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you probably have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, including the type of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Oneonta AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you enroll in the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier 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 college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can research 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 also. Contact several Oneonta 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 recommendations about your program options. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Oneonta AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the college has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are interested in have associations with Oneonta AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Oneonta health care community and help with job placement after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the typical 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 determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they select will need to be within driving distance of their Oneonta 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 concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT colleges offer some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial aid office and find out what type of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist school you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Oneonta AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Oneonta Physical Therapy Training

Choose the Right Oneonta Physical Therapist School

Choosing the best physical therapist college is an important first decision you need to make to launch a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you choose should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other important questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that many variables will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to go to each of the colleges to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed 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 best selection. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Oneonta Alabama.


 

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