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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Saks Alabama

Saks Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Saks AL is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the proper education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate those you are considering to make certain they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a college just 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 along with cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Saks Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, such as Saks AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Saks AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Saks Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is available 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 prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Saks AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by community colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to finish 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 also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

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 attainable in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Degrees Online

Saks Alabama woman taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Saks AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition may be significantly less than comparable on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning some of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Saks AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Moreover, you want to make sure that you enroll in the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional 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 enroll in an online program, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in 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 a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can research a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call several Saks AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your school options. It might also be prudent 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 College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students left due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Saks AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the college has a large network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you select provides both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have associations with Saks AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Saks healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Saks AL residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial support to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and find out what type of aid is available. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Saks AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Saks Online Physical Therapy Degrees

Enroll in the Right Saks Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the best physical therapist school is an important initial decision you need to make to start a rewarding career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you choose should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are additional relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your final decision. You may decide to visit different campuses to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Saks Alabama.


 

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