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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Satsuma Alabama

Satsuma Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Satsuma AL is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are looking at to make sure they will provide a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Satsuma Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying locations, including Satsuma AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Satsuma AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Satsuma Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Satsuma AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in several 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 offered in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Colleges

Satsuma Alabama female student taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as common as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Satsuma AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat less than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. 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 dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you probably have come to decision regarding several of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Satsuma AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to research other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you enroll in the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you enroll in an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call some Satsuma AL physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your program selections. It may also be a good idea 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 Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might 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 college's job placement program, particularly in the Satsuma AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the college has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you select furnishes both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist schools you are interested in have associations with Satsuma AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Satsuma medical community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Satsuma AL residence. Those who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually 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 Assistance Offered? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance office and see what kind of assistance is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist program you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Satsuma AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Satsuma Online Physical Therapist Courses

Choose the Best Satsuma Physical Therapy School

Selecting the ideal physical therapy college is an important first decision you must make to begin a gratifying career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that many variables will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to visit different campuses to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Satsuma Alabama.


 

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