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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist School Near Tillmans Corner Alabama

Tillmans Corner Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Tillmans Corner AL is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper education and training. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are considering to make certain they will provide a quality education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered 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 what the educational options are.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Tillmans Corner Alabama physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Tillmans Corner AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Tillmans Corner AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Tillmans Corner Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is available 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 descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Tillmans Corner 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 equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often provided by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to ready candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a practicing licensed 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 total investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only 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 eliminated and is no longer offered in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Tillmans Corner Alabama woman taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional options, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure 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 in proximity of an available internship. However, the online part of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Tillmans Corner AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition may be somewhat less than similar on campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many 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.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you probably have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Tillmans Corner AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college options. Also, you need to make sure that you enroll in the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier 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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you receive 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 Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting 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 also. Contact several Tillmans Corner AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your program options. It may also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction 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 Tillmans Corner AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or even exceptional. It also confirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you choose furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing have associations with Tillmans Corner AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Tillmans Corner 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 far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Tillmans Corner AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Most DPT schools offer some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid office and see what type of assistance is available. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy college 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 Tillmans Corner AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask 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 Tillmans Corner Online Physical Therapist Colleges

Choose the Right Tillmans Corner Physical Therapy School

Choosing the best physical therapy program is a necessary first decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may want to visit each of the colleges to view their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Tillmans Corner Alabama.


 

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