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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Saks Alabama

Saks Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Saks AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the necessary training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are considering to make certain they will provide a superior education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered besides 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?

Saks Alabama physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, including Saks AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Saks AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Saks Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Saks AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually provided by junior or community colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the total commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an important element along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just 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 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 present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Schools

Saks Alabama woman taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs available, 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 nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Saks AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition can be significantly less than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenditures 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 learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you probably have come to decision concerning several of your initial questions, including the kind of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Saks AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to look into additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Also, you need to make certain that you select the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 enroll in an online college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can research a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Call a few Saks AL physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your college selections. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Saks AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you select furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have associations with Saks AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Saks medical community and assist with job placement after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at 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 ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Saks AL home. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. 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 be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT schools provide some type of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid office and see what kind of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy college 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 must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Saks AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out 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.

Learn More About Saks Physical Therapy Programs

Enroll in the Right Saks Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the ideal physical therapist college is an important initial decision you need to make to begin a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are other relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that many variables will guide you to your final decision. You may want to go to different colleges to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Saks Alabama.


 

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