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How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Rainbow City Alabama

Rainbow City Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Rainbow City AL is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold 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 thinking about to make sure they will provide a quality education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Rainbow City Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Rainbow City AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Rainbow City AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Rainbow City Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is offered 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 progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Rainbow City AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually made available by community or junior colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to complete and commonly 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 overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal element along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in a number of 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 offered in the USA. 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 instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

Rainbow City Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional options, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Rainbow City AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition may be significantly less than comparable on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you probably have made a decision regarding some of your initial queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Rainbow City AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school options. Moreover, you need to make certain that you enroll in the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional 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 may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with several Rainbow City AL physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your college options. It might 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 schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students left 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 Rainbow City AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Rainbow City AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Rainbow City health care community and help with job placement after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Rainbow City AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT schools provide some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid department and see what kind of aid is available. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy program you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Rainbow City AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. 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 Rainbow City Online Physical Therapy Majors

Enroll in the Right Rainbow City Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the ideal physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you need to make to begin a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are other critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that many factors will guide you toward your final decision. You might want to go to different colleges to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Rainbow City Alabama.


 

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