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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy College Near Selma Alabama

Selma Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Selma AL is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are considering to make sure they will provide a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered besides cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Selma Alabama DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Selma AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. 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 suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen 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
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Selma AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Selma Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Selma AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare 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 most often provided by junior or community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 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 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 total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Selma Alabama woman taking physical therapy training onlineWhile not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Selma AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat lower than similar on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Selma AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you select the college that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier 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 school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with several Selma AL physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college options. It may also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students dropped out 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 support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Selma AL area? If a college 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 school has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you choose furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have associations with Selma AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Selma medical community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they select will need to be within travelling distance of their Selma AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally 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 decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps 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 typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

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

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist school you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Selma AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Selma Online Physical Therapy Programs

Choose the Right Selma Physical Therapist School

Picking the ideal physical therapist college is a necessary first decision you need to make to begin a rewarding career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you choose should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are additional relevant questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that many variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit different colleges to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Selma Alabama.


 

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