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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Prichard Alabama

Prichard Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Prichard AL is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the proper training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will furnish a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. 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 significant 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?

Prichard Alabama physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, such as Prichard AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Prichard AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Prichard Alabama physical therapist 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 options, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Prichard AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take four 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 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 the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an important element along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in some states for licensing also.

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 licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Schools

Prichard Alabama woman taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Prichard AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

By now you most likely have come to decision concerning a few of your preliminary queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Prichard AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to look into other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you need to make sure that you enroll in the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously mentioned, 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 imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call a few Prichard AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your college options. It may also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate 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 support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Prichard AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also confirms that the school has a wide 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 school you select provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapist schools you are interested in have associations with Prichard AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Prichard health care community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing 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 speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Prichard AL residence. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college 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 frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and find out what type of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools 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 College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Prichard AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Prichard Online Physical Therapist Degrees

Enroll in the Right Prichard Physical Therapy School

Picking the best physical therapy college 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 PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that numerous factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to different schools to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me accomplish 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 field so you can make the best choice. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Prichard Alabama.


 

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