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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Saraland Alabama

Saraland Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Saraland AL is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are looking at to ensure they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered besides 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Saraland Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, such as Saraland AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

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

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Saraland Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options available 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 emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Saraland 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 a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by community or junior colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

Saraland Alabama female student taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, 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 affordable. Tuition might be somewhat less than comparable on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

At this point you most likely have come to decision regarding a few of your initial questions, like the type of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Saraland AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college options. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you choose the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. 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 school, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact several Saraland AL physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your program 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 submitted against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Saraland AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or even exceptional. It also affirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you enroll in provides both superior training and a curriculum that supports 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have relationships with Saraland AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Saraland medical community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they select will need to be within travelling distance of their Saraland AL residence. Those who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial support to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and find out what type of assistance is available. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify 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 aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Saraland AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Saraland Online Physical Therapy Colleges

Enroll in the Right Saraland Physical Therapist School

Selecting the best physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you have to make to start a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you select should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that a number of variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might want to visit each of the colleges to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Saraland Alabama.


 

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