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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Opp Alabama

Opp Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Opp AL is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the appropriate education and training. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate those you are considering to make certain they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated besides cost and location. 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?

Opp Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Opp AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Opp AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Offered

Opp Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Opp AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program must also 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 complete, making the overall commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.

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 available in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Opp Alabama female student taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Opp AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than similar on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you most likely have come to decision regarding some of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Opp AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Moreover, you want to make sure that you enroll in the college that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact several Opp AL physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your college selections. It may also be a good idea to check with 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 couple of significant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Opp 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 school has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you enroll in provides both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have relationships with Opp AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, 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 Opp healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Opp AL home. Students who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are looking at have a financial aid office and see what type of help is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy college you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Opp AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Opp Physical Therapist Training

Choose the Right Opp Physical Therapy School

Choosing the ideal physical therapy college is a necessary first decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are other important questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you toward your final decision. You might decide to visit each of the colleges to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me achieve 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 right selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Opp Alabama.


 

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