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

Tillmans Corner Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Tillmans Corner AL is an essential first step to starting a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the appropriate education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are thinking about to make certain they will furnish a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered along with location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Tillmans Corner Alabama DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Tillmans Corner AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Tillmans Corner AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also manage one or more 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 getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Tillmans Corner Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Tillmans Corner AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by community or junior colleges, and require two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in several 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 offered in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Tillmans Corner Alabama female student taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus 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, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Tillmans Corner AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition may be significantly less than similar on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Tillmans Corner AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you enroll in the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier 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 choose an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting 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. Contact a few Tillmans Corner AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your college options. 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 School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once 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 college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the program has a large network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you enroll in 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 each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have relationships with Tillmans Corner AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Tillmans Corner healthcare community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they choose 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 area internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT schools provide some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of help is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may 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 especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Tillmans Corner AL area, confirm 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 have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Tillmans Corner Physical Therapist Training

Choose the Best Tillmans Corner Physical Therapy School

Picking the right physical therapist college is a necessary first decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are other important questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to visit different schools to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Tillmans Corner Alabama.


 

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