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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy College Near Saraland Alabama

Saraland Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Saraland AL is an essential first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are thinking about to ensure they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to cost and location. But before we talk about 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Saraland Alabama physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying locations, including Saraland AL hospitals, health clinics, 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 touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Saraland AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Saraland Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is attainable 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 prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Saraland AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically provided by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to complete and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely 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 USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Colleges Online

Saraland Alabama female student taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Saraland AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition may be significantly less than comparable on campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you probably have come to decision concerning several of your initial questions, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Saraland AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to research other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you pick the school 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 therapist schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are considering have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact a few Saraland AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your college selections. 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 therapy schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Saraland AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also affirms that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you enroll in provides both exceptional 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 college. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have relationships with Saraland AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates develop professional connections in the Saraland health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want 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 perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Saraland AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT colleges provide some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid office and find out what type of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy school you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Saraland AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Saraland Online Physical Therapy Programs

Enroll in the Best Saraland Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the best physical therapist program is a necessary initial decision you need to make to start a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that many factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to different campuses to view their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me accomplish 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 selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Saraland Alabama.


 

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