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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Tarrant Alabama

Tarrant Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Tarrant AL is an essential first step to starting a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the necessary training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate those you are looking at to ensure they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered along with location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Tarrant Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, including Tarrant 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 individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Tarrant AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Tarrant Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one 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. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Tarrant AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by community or junior colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an important component in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Tarrant Alabama female student taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Tarrant AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding several of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Tarrant AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you need to be sure that you select the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you enroll in an online college, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can research a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with some Tarrant AL physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your program options. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low 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 help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Tarrant AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even exceptional. It also confirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you select provides both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have associations with Tarrant AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to get practical training 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 students and graduates develop professional connections in the Tarrant healthcare community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher 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 a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

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

Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial aid office and find out what kind of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy school you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Tarrant AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Tarrant Physical Therapist Majors

Enroll in the Right Tarrant Physical Therapist School

Picking the right physical therapist program is an important first decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you choose should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that many variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me reach 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 options so you can make the best selection. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Tarrant Alabama.


 

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