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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Robertsdale Alabama

Robertsdale Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Robertsdale AL is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the appropriate training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to research those you are considering to ensure they will provide a quality education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is choose a school just 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 along with location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Robertsdale Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Robertsdale AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing 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 eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement 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
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Robertsdale AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Robertsdale Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Robertsdale AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or may 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 most often offered by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to finish and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the total commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely 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 eliminated and is no longer attainable in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Schools Online

Robertsdale Alabama female student taking physical therapy courses onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of 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 an available internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Robertsdale AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition might be somewhat less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

By now you probably have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary questions, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Robertsdale AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you need to make certain that you pick the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you enroll in an online college, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact some Robertsdale AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your program options. It may also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, 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 Robertsdale AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you select furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have relationships with Robertsdale AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Robertsdale health care community and assist with job placement once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Robertsdale AL home. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to keep 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 have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT colleges provide some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and see what type of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy program you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Robertsdale AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Robertsdale Online Physical Therapist Majors

Enroll in the Best Robertsdale Physical Therapy School

Choosing the right physical therapy school is an important initial decision you have to make to launch a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that many factors will guide you toward your final decision. You might want to visit different campuses to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical 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 have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Robertsdale Alabama.


 

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