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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Spanish Fort Alabama

Spanish Fort Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Spanish Fort AL is an important first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are thinking about to ensure they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered along with cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Spanish Fort Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, including Spanish Fort AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Spanish Fort AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Spanish Fort Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Spanish Fort AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to ready candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in several 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 attainable 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 existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Degrees Online

Spanish Fort Alabama female student taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs 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 in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Spanish Fort AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition might be significantly less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you most likely have come to decision concerning several of your initial queries, 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 since there are numerous PT colleges within the Spanish Fort AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you pick 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 schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are considering 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 choose an online college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Call several Spanish Fort AL physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your college options. It may also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Spanish Fort AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also affirms that the school has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have associations with Spanish Fort AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Spanish Fort healthcare community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering 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 final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the students and instructors 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 driving distance of their Spanish Fort AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT schools provide some form of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and see what kind of assistance is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist program you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Spanish Fort AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Spanish Fort Physical Therapy Majors

Choose the Right Spanish Fort Physical Therapist School

Picking the ideal physical therapist school is an important first decision you need to make to start a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are other relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that numerous factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit each of the colleges to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me achieve 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 right choice. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Spanish Fort Alabama.


 

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