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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy School Near Pinson Alabama

Pinson Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Pinson AL is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the appropriate training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are looking at to make sure they will deliver a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Pinson Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, such as Pinson AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Pinson AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Pinson Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Pinson AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order 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 total commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer available in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists having 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 Therapist Online Degrees

Pinson Alabama woman taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs 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 close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online part of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Pinson AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition can be significantly less than similar on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, like the type of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Pinson AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to look into additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college options. Also, you want to be sure that you select the school that is right for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy 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 place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with some Pinson AL physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your college options. It may also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Pinson AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you select furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have partnerships with Pinson AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Pinson health care community and help with job placement after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Pinson AL residence. Students 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 importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Most DPT colleges provide some type of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are considering have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapy college you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Pinson AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify 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 due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Pinson Online Physical Therapist Colleges

Enroll in the Best Pinson Physical Therapy School

Selecting the best physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are other relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that many factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might want to visit each of the schools to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the right selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Pinson Alabama.


 

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