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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Ozark Alabama

Ozark Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Ozark AL is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are considering to ensure they will provide a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. 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 lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Ozark Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Ozark AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Ozark AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Ozark Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Ozark AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion 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 attainable in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Ozark Alabama woman taking physical therapist courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Ozark AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition might be significantly less than comparable on campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you probably have made a decision concerning several of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, 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 colleges within the Ozark AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to look into additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school options. Moreover, you want to make certain that you choose the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have received 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 college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for 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. Contact several Ozark AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your school options. It may 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist schools you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students dropped out 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 help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Ozark AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the college has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you enroll in provides both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing have associations with Ozark AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Ozark healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Ozark AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble 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 choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT colleges provide some form of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department and see what type of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Ozark AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Ozark Physical Therapy Degrees

Choose the Right Ozark Physical Therapy School

Selecting the best physical therapist program is a necessary initial decision you must make to begin a rewarding 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 other relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your ultimate 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 achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Ozark Alabama.


 

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