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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy School Near Theodore Alabama

Theodore Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Theodore AL is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the proper education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are looking at to ensure they will deliver a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered besides cost and location. But before we discuss 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Theodore Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, such as Theodore AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Theodore AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can 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 profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Theodore Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate 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 concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Theodore AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by community or junior colleges, and require 2 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 developed as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four 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 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 total commitment seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential component in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment 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 phased out 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 mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

Theodore Alabama female student taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort 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 comparable on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

At this point you probably have come to decision concerning a few of your initial queries, such as the type 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 considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Theodore AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you enroll in the program that is right for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier stated, 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 therapist school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with ensuring 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 College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting 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. Contact some Theodore AL physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your college selections. 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 relevant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Theodore AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you select provides both excellent training and a course of study that supports 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are assessing have associations with Theodore AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to obtain practical experience 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 form professional relationships in the Theodore healthcare community and help with job placement once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher 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 talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Theodore AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern 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 school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid office and find out what type of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy program you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Theodore AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Theodore Physical Therapist Majors

Enroll in the Right Theodore Physical Therapist School

Choosing the right physical therapist school is an important initial decision you have to make to start a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are other relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that many factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may want to go to different campuses to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Theodore Alabama.


 

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