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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Theodore Alabama

Theodore Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Theodore AL is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate the ones you are considering to make certain they will supply a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable 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 cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Theodore Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying locations, including Theodore AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Theodore AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering entering 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 Therapy Degrees Available

Theodore Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Theodore AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be 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 qualify for enrollment. The degrees 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 part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an important component in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.

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. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Schools Online

Theodore Alabama female student taking physical therapist courses onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Theodore AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition might be significantly lower than similar on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, like the kind of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Theodore AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you need to make certain that you select the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. 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 select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Theodore AL physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your school 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 schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are considering. 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, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Theodore AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you enroll in provides both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are interested in have associations with Theodore AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Theodore healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. 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 instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Theodore AL home. Those who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT colleges provide some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department and find out what kind of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist school you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Theodore AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Theodore Physical Therapy Programs

Choose the Best Theodore Physical Therapy School

Picking the right physical therapist school is a necessary first decision you have to make to begin a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that many factors will guide you to your final decision. You might decide to go to each of the schools to view their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Theodore Alabama.


 

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