Home >> Alabama >> Vestavia Hills >> Physical Therapy Major Programs


Receive Free Info on Physical Therapist Training Vestavia Hills AL 35209

How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy College Near Vestavia Hills Alabama

Vestavia Hills Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Vestavia Hills AL is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the appropriate 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 school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate the ones you are considering to make certain they will supply a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to cost and location. But before we cover 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?

Vestavia Hills Alabama physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, such as Vestavia Hills 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 stated, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Vestavia Hills AL health 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. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Vestavia Hills Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Vestavia Hills AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want 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 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in some states for licensing also.

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

Physical Therapy Colleges Online

Vestavia Hills Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Vestavia Hills AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning several of your initial questions, like the kind of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Vestavia Hills AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Also, you want to make certain that you choose the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier 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 select an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for 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 as well. Get in touch with several Vestavia Hills AL physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your program options. It may 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 colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Vestavia Hills AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you enroll in furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements vary 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 Offered? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are evaluating have associations with Vestavia Hills AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Vestavia Hills healthcare community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the typical 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 an opportunity to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Vestavia Hills AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online 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 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 often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid office and see what type of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist program you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Vestavia Hills AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Vestavia Hills Online Physical Therapy Programs

Choose the Right Vestavia Hills Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the right physical therapy school is an important initial decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are additional relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to each of the campuses to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Vestavia Hills Alabama.


 

Vestavia Hills Physical Therapist Degrees | Main | Vestavia Hills Physical Therapy Schools