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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy School Near Satsuma Alabama

Satsuma Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Satsuma AL is an essential first step to starting a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to research those you are thinking about to make certain they will deliver a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select a school just because it happens to be the closest 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 discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Satsuma Alabama physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, including Satsuma AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers 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 mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating 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 association with other Satsuma AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Satsuma Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is attainable 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 prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Satsuma AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually provided by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four 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 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 finish, making the total commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an important element along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in some 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. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Schools

Satsuma Alabama female student taking physical therapist courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Satsuma AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you most likely have come to decision regarding several of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Satsuma AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to research other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you want to make certain that you enroll in the program that is ideal for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously 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 choose an online school, it can 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. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call a few Satsuma AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your school options. It might also be a good idea to check with 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 important statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Satsuma AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you select provides both excellent 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 required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have partnerships with Satsuma AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Satsuma medical community and help with job placement once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several 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 therapist college they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Satsuma AL home. Those 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 decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly 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 Help Provided? Most DPT schools offer some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid department and see what kind of assistance is obtainable. They at least 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 provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist school you finally choose can furnish 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 Satsuma AL area, make certain that they are offered. 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 enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Satsuma Physical Therapist Training

Enroll in the Best Satsuma Physical Therapy School

Picking the best physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you have to make to launch a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you pick should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are other important questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that many factors will lead you to your final decision. You might want to visit each of the colleges to view their facilities and talk to active 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 have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Satsuma Alabama.


 

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