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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Princeton Alabama

Princeton Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Princeton AL is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are thinking about to ensure they will supply a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Princeton Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, including Princeton AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate 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
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Princeton AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Princeton Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is offered 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 readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Princeton AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate 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 programs are most often offered by community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to ready students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in a number of 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. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Princeton Alabama female student taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Princeton AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition can be significantly less than similar on campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you most likely have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Princeton AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to research additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Also, you need to be sure that you enroll in the college that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional 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 select an online school, it may also earn 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. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with several Princeton AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your program selections. It may also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Princeton AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also confirms that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you select furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements 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 therapist college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are assessing have partnerships with Princeton AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Princeton medical community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at 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 decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Princeton AL residence. Those who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT schools provide some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance department and find out what type of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in acquiring 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 program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy school you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Princeton AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Princeton Physical Therapy Training

Enroll in the Best Princeton Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the best physical therapist college is an important initial decision you have to make to launch a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are other critical questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that a number of variables will lead you to your final decision. You might decide to go to each of the campuses to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Princeton Alabama.


 

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