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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Talladega Alabama

Talladega Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Talladega AL is an essential first step to starting a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are looking at to make sure they will furnish a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Talladega Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying 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 previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Talladega AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Talladega Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Talladega 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 a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential component along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in a number of 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 available in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Talladega Alabama female student taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as common as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure 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 nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum may 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 cases more economical. Tuition can be significantly less than similar on campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

By now you most likely have made a decision concerning some of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Talladega AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to look into other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you select the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national 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 enroll in an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT school'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 agencies for their reviews as well. Call some Talladega AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your college options. It may also be a good idea to contact 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 relevant statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Talladega AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the college has a large network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you choose provides both excellent training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have relationships with Talladega AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Talladega health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Talladega AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT schools provide some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department and find out what kind of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist college you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Talladega AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Talladega Physical Therapist Majors

Choose the Best Talladega Physical Therapy School

Choosing the ideal physical therapist school is a necessary first decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to visit each of the colleges to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following 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 education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Talladega Alabama.


 

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