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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Saks Alabama

Saks Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Saks AL is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate those you are thinking about to make sure they will furnish a quality education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Saks Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Saks 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 diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Saks AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Saks Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is offered 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 advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Saks AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may 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 most often provided by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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 3 years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal element in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in several 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 phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

Saks Alabama female student taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Saks AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary questions, including the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money 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 have to research additional qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you want to make sure that you choose the program that is best for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are reviewing have earned 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 enroll in an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact a few Saks AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any insight 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 colleges.

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 schools you are reviewing. One 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 Saks 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 affirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you select provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Saks AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Saks health care community and help with job placement after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the rear 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 therapist colleges you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Saks AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry 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 choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often 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 Provided? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance office and find out what type of assistance is available. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Saks AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Saks Physical Therapist Majors

Choose the Best Saks Physical Therapy School

Choosing the right physical therapist college is an important first decision you need to make to begin a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other important questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to different schools to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Saks Alabama.


 

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