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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy College Near Tillmans Corner Alabama

Tillmans Corner Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Tillmans Corner AL is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the necessary education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are considering to ensure they will provide a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to 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 is a Physical Therapist?

Tillmans Corner Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Tillmans Corner 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 the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, 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 association with other Tillmans Corner AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Tillmans Corner Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is offered 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 readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Tillmans Corner AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to complete and often include 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 complete, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Programs Online

Tillmans Corner Alabama woman taking physical therapy 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 structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires 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 home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly less than similar on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding several of your preliminary questions, like the type of physical therapy degree you would like to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Tillmans Corner AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to look into additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you pick the program that is right for you. That's why we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are looking at have received 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 program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact several Tillmans Corner AL physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your school selections. It might also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Tillmans Corner AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you enroll in furnishes both superior 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 required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have relationships with Tillmans Corner AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Tillmans Corner medical community and assist with job placement once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher 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 a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors 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 pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Tillmans Corner AL home. Individuals 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 decide 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 generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and see what type of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapist college you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must 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 courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Tillmans Corner Online Physical Therapy Majors

Choose the Right Tillmans Corner Physical Therapy School

Selecting the right physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you need to make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may want to go to each of the colleges to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able 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 licensed physical therapist in Tillmans Corner Alabama.


 

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