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How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Satsuma Alabama

Satsuma Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Satsuma AL is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the proper education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will deliver a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered along with cost and location. But before we talk about 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 assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, such as Satsuma AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Satsuma AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, 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 Therapist Degree Options

Satsuma Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Satsuma AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and usually include 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 must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.

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 available in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Schools Online

Satsuma Alabama woman taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more 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 a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Satsuma AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition might be significantly lower than comparable on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, like the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Satsuma AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you want to make certain that you pick the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. 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 college, it can also earn 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, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact some Satsuma AL physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your college selections. It might also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Satsuma AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you select furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have partnerships with Satsuma AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Satsuma healthcare community and help with job placement once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are looking at 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 ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Satsuma AL home. Individuals who have opted 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. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly 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 Provided? Most DPT schools offer some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department and find out what type of assistance is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy program you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Satsuma 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 protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Satsuma Physical Therapy Degrees

Enroll in the Right Satsuma Physical Therapist School

Picking the right physical therapy program is an important initial decision you must make to begin a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you choose should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that many factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to go to different schools to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college 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 field so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Satsuma Alabama.


 

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