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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Robertsdale Alabama

Robertsdale Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Robertsdale AL is an essential first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will supply a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Robertsdale Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, such as Robertsdale AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers 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 mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Robertsdale AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Robertsdale Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the one 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 advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Robertsdale AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually provided by community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to complete and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order to become a practicing licensed 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 overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an important component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in several 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 phased out and is no longer offered in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Colleges

Robertsdale Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Robertsdale AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be significantly less than comparable on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you prefer 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 throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Also, you need to be sure that you choose the college that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. 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 select an online college, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you receive 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 essential that the school and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact a few Robertsdale AL physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your college selections. It may also be prudent 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After 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 suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the school has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you choose provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have relationships with Robertsdale AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Robertsdale healthcare community and assist with job placement once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor 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 therapy program also.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Robertsdale AL residence. Individuals 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 importance. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT colleges offer some type of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department and find out what type of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist college you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Robertsdale AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses 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 work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Robertsdale Physical Therapy Colleges

Enroll in the Right Robertsdale Physical Therapist School

Selecting the ideal physical therapy program is a necessary first decision you need to make to begin a rewarding career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are other relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that numerous factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might want to visit each of the colleges to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Robertsdale Alabama.


 

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