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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Rainsville Alabama

Rainsville Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Rainsville AL is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the appropriate education and training. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are considering to ensure they will provide a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered besides location and cost. But before we cover 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 DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying locations, such as Rainsville AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating 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 work in close affiliation with other Rainsville AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Rainsville Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is available 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 prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Rainsville AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to ready students to advance to the doctoral level. While 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 take 4 years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely 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 offered in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Schools

Rainsville Alabama female student taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Rainsville AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning several of your initial queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Rainsville AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school options. Moreover, you want to be sure that you pick the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. 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 select an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with several Rainsville AL physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your college options. It might 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 couple of significant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might 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 school's job placement program, particularly in the Rainsville AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you choose furnishes both superior 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are reviewing have relationships with Rainsville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Rainsville health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Rainsville AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something 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 might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT colleges offer some type of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are examining 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 scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist school you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Rainsville AL area, make sure that they are offered. 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 need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Rainsville Online Physical Therapist Courses

Enroll in the Best Rainsville Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the right physical therapist program is a necessary first decision you need to make to launch a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you select should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your final decision. You might want to visit different colleges to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me realize 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 ideal selection. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Rainsville Alabama.


 

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