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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist School Near Sylacauga Alabama

Sylacauga Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Sylacauga AL is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are considering to make sure they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated along with cost and location. But before we cover 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?

Sylacauga Alabama physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Sylacauga AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Sylacauga AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Sylacauga Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Sylacauga AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually made available by community or junior colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, 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 United States. A number of 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 instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Schools

Sylacauga Alabama woman taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Sylacauga AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition can be significantly less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning several of your initial questions, including the kind of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Sylacauga AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to look into additional qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college options. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you choose the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Sylacauga AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your program selections. 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 submitted against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Sylacauga AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the college has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you select furnishes both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have associations with Sylacauga AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Sylacauga health care community and help with job placement once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Sylacauga AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT schools offer some type of financial support to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial aid office and see what kind of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapy college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Sylacauga AL area, make sure 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, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Sylacauga Online Physical Therapist Training

Enroll in the Right Sylacauga Physical Therapist School

Picking the best physical therapist college is an important initial decision you must make to start a gratifying career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that many factors will guide you to your final decision. You might want to go to different colleges to see their facilities and speak to 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 additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Sylacauga Alabama.


 

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