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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy School Near Satsuma Alabama

Satsuma Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Satsuma AL is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are looking at to make sure they will furnish a quality education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered besides cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Satsuma Alabama DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying locations, including Satsuma AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Satsuma AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, 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 Therapy Degrees Available

Satsuma Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is available 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 preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Satsuma AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by community colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 complete, making the overall commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential element in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only 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 phased out and is no longer available in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Programs Online

Satsuma Alabama female student taking physical therapy courses onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Satsuma AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition might be significantly lower than comparable on campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you probably have made a decision concerning some of your preliminary questions, like the type of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Satsuma AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you choose the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national 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 enroll in an online school, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Call several Satsuma AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your college selections. It may also be a good idea 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 Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left because of 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 college's job placement program, particularly in the Satsuma AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even exceptional. It also affirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college 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 practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are interested in have relationships with Satsuma AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Satsuma healthcare community and assist with job placement once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Satsuma AL home. Students who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern 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 college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT schools provide some type of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department and find out what kind of assistance is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist college you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Satsuma AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Satsuma Physical Therapist Colleges

Enroll in the Best Satsuma Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the right physical therapist school is a necessary first decision you must make to begin a gratifying career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your final decision. You might decide to visit different schools to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Satsuma Alabama.


 

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