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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Selma Alabama

Selma Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Selma AL is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the proper education and training. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are considering to make certain they will deliver a superior education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we cover 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?

Selma Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in varying settings, such as Selma AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Selma AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Selma Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Selma 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. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually provided by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to finish and commonly 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 must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the total commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not only 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 even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Selma Alabama woman taking physical therapist courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, 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 necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online part of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Selma AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition might be significantly lower than similar on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Selma AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you want to make sure that you pick the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the programs 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 select an online program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call several Selma 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 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 filed against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Selma AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you select provides both exceptional 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 school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have associations with Selma AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional connections in the Selma medical community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Selma AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing 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 be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Most DPT schools provide some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department and find out what kind of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.

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

Learn More About Selma Physical Therapy Courses

Choose the Right Selma Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the best physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you must make to start a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that many variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to visit different campuses to view their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me accomplish 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 ideal selection. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Selma Alabama.


 

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