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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy School Near Tuskegee Alabama

Tuskegee Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Tuskegee AL is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can 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 mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will furnish a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Tuskegee Alabama physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, including Tuskegee AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Tuskegee AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Tuskegee Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Tuskegee AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to ready students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.

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. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Schools

Tuskegee Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Tuskegee AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you probably have come to decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Tuskegee AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to look into additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Also, you need to be sure that you choose the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously 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 enroll in an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact some Tuskegee AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your school selections. It may also be a good idea to contact 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 two significant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Tuskegee AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you choose furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have associations with Tuskegee AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Tuskegee medical community and assist with job placement once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Tuskegee AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing 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 be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and find out what type of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy program you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Tuskegee AL area, verify that they are offered. 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 carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Tuskegee Online Physical Therapy Programs

Enroll in the Right Tuskegee Physical Therapy School

Choosing the ideal physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you need to make to begin a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that a number of variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to go to different campuses to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Tuskegee Alabama.


 

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