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How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Opp Alabama

Opp Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Opp AL is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the necessary education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate those you are considering to ensure they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Opp Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, including Opp AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Opp AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite 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 Therapy Degrees

Opp Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Opp AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by community or junior colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to complete and often incorporate 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). 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 training is an intregal element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in a number of 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 phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Opp Alabama female student taking physical therapy training onlineWhile not as common as the more traditional options, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees available, more so 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 near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Opp AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition may be significantly less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you probably have made a decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, including the type of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Opp AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to look into additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college options. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you pick the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call several Opp AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your college options. It might also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Opp AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you choose provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria 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 college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have partnerships with Opp AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional connections in the Opp medical community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Opp AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial aid office and see what type of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing 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 program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist program you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Opp AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Opp Physical Therapist Programs

Choose the Right Opp Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the right physical therapist program is an important first decision you must make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that many factors will guide you toward your final decision. You might want to go to each of the colleges to view 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 be able to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Opp Alabama.


 

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