Home >> Alabama >> Southside >> Physical Therapy Schools


Request Free Information on Physical Therapy Programs Southside AL 35905

How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist College Near Southside Alabama

Southside Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Southside AL is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the appropriate education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will deliver a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to 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 what the educational options are.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Southside Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, such as Southside 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 previously stated, physical therapists help people 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 resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Southside AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Southside Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Southside AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by community colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program also must 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 complete, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in several 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 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 existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Schools

Southside Alabama woman taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees available, 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 requires that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Southside AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition might be significantly lower than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages 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 Schools

At this point you probably have made a decision concerning several of your initial questions, like the kind of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Southside AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to research other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college options. Also, you want to be sure that you choose the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier 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 school, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting 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 as well. Contact several Southside AL physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your school 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 filed against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Southside AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you choose furnishes both excellent 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. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are reviewing have associations with Southside AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Southside 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 far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. 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 also.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Southside AL residence. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

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

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist school you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Southside AL area, check that they are available. 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 protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Southside Physical Therapist Schools

Enroll in the Best Southside Physical Therapy School

Selecting the right physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you need to make to launch a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you select should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are other critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to go to different campuses to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Southside Alabama.


 

Southside Physical Therapy Major Programs | Main | Southside Physical Therapist Schools