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How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Talladega Alabama

Talladega Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Talladega AL is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the necessary training and education. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are looking at to make certain they will provide a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Talladega Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Talladega AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Talladega AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Talladega Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy 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 prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Talladega AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as 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 be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by community or junior colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to finish and often 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). 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 intregal element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in several states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Degrees

Talladega Alabama woman taking physical therapist courses onlineWhile not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy 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 near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Talladega AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning several of your preliminary questions, like the kind of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Talladega AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to research additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to make sure that you select the college that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 choose an online school, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you receive 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? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with some Talladega AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer 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 filed against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Talladega AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the college has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you choose provides both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have relationships with Talladega AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Talladega healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at 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 determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Talladega AL home. Those who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep 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 might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and see what kind of aid is available. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy college you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Talladega AL area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Talladega Physical Therapy Courses

Enroll in the Right Talladega Physical Therapist School

Choosing the best physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that numerous variables will guide you toward your final decision. You might decide to visit different schools to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me reach 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 options 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 Talladega Alabama.


 

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