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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Prattville Alabama

Prattville Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Prattville AL is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Prattville Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including Prattville AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Prattville AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Prattville Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a licensed practicing 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 complete, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.

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 attainable in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Prattville Alabama female student taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Prattville AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat less than comparable on campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning some of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Prattville AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college options. Also, you need to make certain that you choose the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. 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 choose an online college, it can 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. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact a few Prattville AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your school selections. It may also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Prattville AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you choose provides both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria 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 program. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are assessing have associations with Prattville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Prattville health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Prattville AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some form of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial aid department and find out what type of assistance is available. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist program you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Prattville AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Prattville Physical Therapy Colleges

Choose the Best Prattville Physical Therapist School

Selecting the ideal physical therapist program is an important first decision you must make to begin a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are additional relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that a number of variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit different colleges to see their facilities and talk with active 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 following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the best choice. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Prattville Alabama.


 

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