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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy College Near Theodore Alabama

Theodore Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Theodore AL is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the proper education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate the ones you are considering to ensure they will furnish a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Theodore Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, including Theodore AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Theodore AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Offered

Theodore Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Theodore AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the overall commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component along with the substantial lab and classroom 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 holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Theodore Alabama woman taking physical therapy training onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to 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 college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Theodore AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat lower than similar on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding some of your initial questions, including the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Theodore AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college options. Also, you need to make certain that you pick the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously stated, 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 school, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact a few Theodore AL physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your college options. It may also be prudent 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 Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Theodore AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also confirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you enroll in provides both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are interested in have associations with Theodore AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional connections in the Theodore healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering 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 ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Theodore AL home. Those who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college 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 usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? The majority of DPT schools offer some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial aid office and find out what kind of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Theodore AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out 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 may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Theodore Physical Therapist Programs

Enroll in the Right Theodore Physical Therapist School

Choosing the right physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you must make to start a gratifying career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that numerous factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to each of the colleges to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to 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 achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Theodore Alabama.


 

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