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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Orange Beach Alabama

Orange Beach Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Orange Beach AL is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate those you are thinking about to make certain they will deliver a quality education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about 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?

Orange Beach Alabama physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in varying settings, including Orange Beach AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Orange Beach AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Orange Beach Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as 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. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Orange Beach AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs 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 a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want 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 three years to finish, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an important element in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer offered in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Orange Beach Alabama woman taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as common as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Orange Beach AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat lower than similar on campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning some of your initial questions, including the type of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Orange Beach AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to look into additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you pick the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are considering 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 enroll in an online school, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with a few Orange Beach AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you 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 submitted against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out 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 college's job placement program, particularly in the Orange Beach AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are interested in have associations with Orange Beach AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates develop professional connections in the Orange Beach healthcare community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools 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 talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Orange Beach AL home. Those who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble 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 be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT schools offer some form of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department and see what type of help is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Orange Beach AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative 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 may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Orange Beach Physical Therapist Majors

Choose the Right Orange Beach Physical Therapist School

Choosing the best physical therapy school is an important first decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are other relevant questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that numerous variables will lead you toward your final decision. You might want to visit different campuses to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me realize 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 field so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Orange Beach Alabama.


 

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