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How to Select the Right Physical Therapist College Near Rainsville Alabama

Rainsville Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Rainsville AL is an essential first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive 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 college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will supply a quality education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is choose a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated along with 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 the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Rainsville Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, including Rainsville AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Rainsville AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Rainsville Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Rainsville AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be 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 equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and usually include an internship program of at least 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 complete, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Rainsville Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so 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 requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the course of study can 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 instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding several of your preliminary questions, including the type of physical therapist degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Rainsville AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college options. Also, you want to make certain that you select the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier 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 college, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Rainsville AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your program 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 submitted against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Rainsville AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you select provides both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. 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 as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have associations with Rainsville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Rainsville healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Rainsville AL home. Individuals who have chosen 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. 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 need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT schools offer some type of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid department and find out what type of help is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist program you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Rainsville AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Rainsville Online Physical Therapy Degrees

Choose the Right Rainsville Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the ideal physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you need to make to launch a rewarding career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are additional critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that many variables will guide you toward your final decision. You may want to visit each of the campuses to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed 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 ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Rainsville Alabama.


 

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