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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Prichard Alabama

Prichard Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Prichard AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate those you are looking at to make sure they will furnish a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a college 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 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 the options for education.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Prichard Alabama physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, such as Prichard AL private practices, hospitals, 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 struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Prichard AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Offered

Prichard Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below 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 be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the total commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, 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 practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Programs

Prichard Alabama female student taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as common as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Prichard AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition may be significantly lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding several of your preliminary questions, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Prichard AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to be sure that you pick the program that is right for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges 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 select an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call several Prichard AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your program selections. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy colleges you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Prichard AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also affirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you enroll in furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Prichard AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Prichard 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 rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Prichard AL home. Students who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern 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 decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT schools offer some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid department and see what kind of assistance is obtainable. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy program you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Prichard AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option 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 might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Prichard Physical Therapy Courses

Choose the Right Prichard Physical Therapist School

Selecting the best physical therapy college is an important first decision you need to make to begin a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are other relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that a number of variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to different campuses to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me reach 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 appropriate choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Prichard Alabama.


 

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