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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Princeton Alabama

Princeton Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballGetting a physical therapist 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 injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the proper training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to research those you are thinking about to make sure they will provide a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is enroll in 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 must be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we discuss 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 is a Physical Therapist?

Princeton Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, including Princeton AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Princeton AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite 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 Degrees Offered

Princeton Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is attainable 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 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 prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually provided by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and often 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an important component in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only 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 eliminated and is no longer available in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Programs Online

Princeton Alabama female student taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, even more 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 near the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Princeton AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you most likely have come to decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Princeton AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to look into additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college options. Also, you want to make sure that you enroll in the program that is ideal for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with several Princeton AL physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your program options. It may also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage 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 college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you choose furnishes both excellent 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have associations with Princeton AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, 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 assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

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

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Princeton AL home. Students who have opted 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. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT schools supply some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and see what type of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Princeton AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Princeton Physical Therapist Training

Choose the Best Princeton Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the ideal physical therapist college is an important initial decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that a number of factors will guide you toward your final decision. You might decide to go to different schools to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the best selection. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Princeton Alabama.


 

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