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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Saks Alabama

Saks Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Saks AL is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will furnish a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. 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 the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must 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 what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Saks Alabama physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Saks AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Saks AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Saks Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often offered by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an important element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not only 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 available in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Degrees

Saks Alabama female student taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the program 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 instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you probably have come to decision concerning a few of your initial queries, including the kind of physical therapy degree you want to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Saks AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to look into additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to be sure that you select the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with several Saks AL physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your program selections. It might also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school'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 medical care field is good or even exceptional. It also confirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you enroll in furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have relationships with Saks AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Saks medical community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Saks AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT schools offer some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are considering have a financial aid department and see what kind of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist school you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Saks AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Saks Online Physical Therapist Colleges

Choose the Right Saks Physical Therapy School

Selecting the ideal physical therapy school is a necessary initial decision you must make to begin a gratifying career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are other relevant questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that many factors will lead you to your final decision. You may decide to visit each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Saks Alabama.


 

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