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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Tarrant Alabama

Tarrant Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Tarrant AL is an essential first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will furnish a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Tarrant Alabama physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Tarrant AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. 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 patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to resolve 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
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Tarrant AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Tarrant Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate 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 concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Tarrant AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to ready students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order 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 three years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an important component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in some states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer offered in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Tarrant Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Tarrant AL home. 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 alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

At this point you probably have come to decision concerning several of your initial questions, like the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Tarrant AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to research additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you need to be sure that you select the college that is best for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national 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 select an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with some Tarrant AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your program selections. 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 schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students dropped out due to 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 Tarrant AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you choose furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are interested in have partnerships with Tarrant AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Tarrant medical community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few 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 choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Tarrant AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial aid office and see what type of assistance is available. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance may be available.

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

Find Out More About Tarrant Online Physical Therapist Schools

Choose the Right Tarrant Physical Therapist School

Selecting the right physical therapist college is a necessary first decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might want to visit different campuses to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me achieve 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 selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Tarrant Alabama.


 

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