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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Saraland Alabama

Saraland Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Saraland AL is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate those you are thinking about to make sure they will furnish 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 relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated along with location and cost. 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 is a Physical Therapist?

Saraland Alabama physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, such as Saraland AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Saraland AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Saraland Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become 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. Below are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Saraland AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by community or junior colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion 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 eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 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 three years to complete, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.

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 offered in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Saraland Alabama woman taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as common as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Saraland AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition may be significantly lower than comparable on campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Saraland AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you enroll in the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final selection.

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

What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call a few Saraland AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your college selections. It may also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction 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 high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you enroll in provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each 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 differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are interested in have relationships with Saraland AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Saraland health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far 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 therapist schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Saraland AL residence. Those who have opted to attend classes online naturally 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 keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? The majority of DPT colleges provide some form of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department and see what kind of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapy school you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Saraland AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out 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 due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Saraland Physical Therapy Courses

Enroll in the Best Saraland Physical Therapist School

Picking the best physical therapy program is an important first decision you need to make to begin a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you choose should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that a number of variables will guide you to your final decision. You might want to visit different campuses to see their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Saraland Alabama.


 

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