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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Opp Alabama

Opp Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Opp AL is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the proper education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are considering to ensure they will provide a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered along with cost and location. But before we cover 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Opp Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including Opp AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers 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 previously stated, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

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

Physical Therapist Degrees

Opp Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees train students to become 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 qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to ready students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to complete and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program also must 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 total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only 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 eliminated and is no longer available in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Degrees Online

Opp Alabama woman taking physical therapist courses onlineWhile 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 necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Opp AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition might be significantly lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you most likely have made a decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Opp AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school options. Moreover, you need to make sure that you enroll in the college that is best for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously stated, 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 program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Opp AL physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your school selections. 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 couple of significant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school'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 health care field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the school has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you choose provides both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Opp AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates develop professional connections in the Opp health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. 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 a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Opp AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps 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 often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT schools offer some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid office and see what type of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist program you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose 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, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Opp Physical Therapist Schools

Choose the Right Opp Physical Therapy School

Picking the right physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you need to make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are additional important questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your final decision. You may decide to go to different schools to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best choice. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Opp Alabama.


 

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