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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist School Near Rainsville Alabama

Rainsville Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Rainsville AL is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are looking at to make sure they will deliver a quality education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Rainsville Alabama physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Rainsville 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 previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Rainsville AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Rainsville Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Rainsville AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to finish and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in some 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 eliminated and is no longer available in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Programs

Rainsville Alabama female student taking physical therapist courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Rainsville AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on-campus options, and expenses 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 best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Rainsville AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to be sure that you enroll in the college that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously mentioned, 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 earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Call a few Rainsville 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 recommendations about your school options. It might also be a good idea to contact 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 two useful statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Rainsville AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you enroll in provides both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are reviewing have partnerships with Rainsville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Rainsville health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate 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 therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Rainsville AL home. Students who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something 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 usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance department and find out what type of aid is offered. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Rainsville AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Rainsville Online Physical Therapist Schools

Enroll in the Right Rainsville Physical Therapist School

Choosing the best physical therapist school is an important initial decision you have to make to begin a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that many factors will guide you toward your final decision. You may want to visit different schools to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the right choice. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Rainsville Alabama.


 

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