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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Princeton Alabama

Princeton Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Princeton AL is an essential first step to starting a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to injury or illness gain back 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 additionally become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are considering to make certain they will provide a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated along with cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Princeton Alabama physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in varying settings, including Princeton AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Princeton AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Princeton Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Princeton AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to ready students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want 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 finish, making the total commitment seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer offered in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists holding 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 Programs

Princeton Alabama woman taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs offered, 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 near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Princeton AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition may be significantly less than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you probably have made a decision concerning some of your initial questions, including the kind of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money 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 have to explore other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to make certain that you pick the school that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier 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 college, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple 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 organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with several Princeton AL physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your college selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, 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 Princeton AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria 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 program. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are interested in have partnerships with Princeton AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way 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 can assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Princeton healthcare community and help with job placement once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Princeton AL residence. Those who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing 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 have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally 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 Support Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are considering have a financial aid department and see what type of aid is available. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may be eligible 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, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist program you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Princeton AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Princeton Physical Therapy Colleges

Choose the Best Princeton Physical Therapy School

Picking the right physical therapy program is a necessary first decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you select should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional important questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that numerous variables will lead you toward your final decision. You may want to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able 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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