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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Pinson Alabama

Pinson Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Pinson AL is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will furnish a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Pinson Alabama physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Pinson AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Pinson AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Pinson Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees available for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as 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. Following are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Pinson AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prepare students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally take 4 years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order 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 3 years to complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in several states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Pinson Alabama woman taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Pinson AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than similar on-campus options, and expenses 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 option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

By now you probably have made a decision concerning some of your initial questions, like the type of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Pinson AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you select the school that is right for you. That's why we have compiled a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national 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 select an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several 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 search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with several Pinson AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your college selections. It may also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Pinson AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you choose provides both excellent training and a curriculum that supports 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have relationships with Pinson AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Pinson medical community and help with job placement once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one 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 monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Pinson AL residence. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally 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 consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some form of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid department and find out what kind of assistance is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Pinson AL area, check 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, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Pinson Online Physical Therapy Training

Enroll in the Right Pinson Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the best physical therapist program is a necessary first decision you have to make to start a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are other relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that a number of variables will guide you to 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 important question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Pinson Alabama.


 

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