How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy College near Gulf Shores Alabama
Earning a physical therapy degree near Gulf Shores AL is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it’s necessary to research those you are considering to ensure they will supply a quality education and meet your state’s licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated 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?
Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Gulf Shores AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Gulf Shores AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Available
There are three physical therapist degree options offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is available to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degree levels that are offered in the Gulf Shores AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often provided by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor’s degrees, they normally require four years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 three years to finish, making the total investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not solely 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 phased out and is no longer available in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master’s or even a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Online Degrees
While not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure 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 a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student’s Gulf Shores AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition may be somewhat lower than similar on campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary questions, including the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Gulf Shores AL area and throughout Alabama, you’ll need to research other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Also, you want to make certain that you choose the program that is ideal for you. That’s the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s essential that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program’s Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it’s important that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can research a PT school’s reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Gulf Shores AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your school options. It might also be a good idea 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 College’s Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the college’s job placement program, particularly in the Gulf Shores AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even exceptional. It also affirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It’s important that the program you select provides both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each 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 fluctuate 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 Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are interested in have relationships with Gulf Shores AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to obtain 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 can help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Gulf Shores healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching 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 final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Gulf Shores AL home. Those 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 concern. One thing to keep 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 generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don’t reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and find out what type of assistance is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist program you ultimately pick 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 night or weekend classes in the Gulf Shores AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Enrolling in a Physical Therapy Program near Gulf Shores Alabama?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Gulf Shores AL area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future campus.
Gulf Shores, Alabama
Gulf Shores is located on the Gulf of Mexico at 30°16'4.069" North, 87°42'5.285" West (30.267797, −87.701468). It is the southernmost settlement in the state of Alabama. It is served by Alabama State Route 59 (Gulf Shores Parkway), which leads north to Foley. Route 182 (Beach Boulevard) runs east-west along the shore front, while Route 180 (Fort Morgan Road) runs parallel to it, north of Little Lagoon. Gulf State Park occupies a large eastern part of the city.
Gulf Shores is located 33 miles (53 km) west of Pensacola, Florida, 54 miles (87 km) south of Mobile, 197 miles (317 km) east of New Orleans, 194 miles (312 km) south of Montgomery, and 55 miles (89 km) west of Navarre, Florida.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 28.0 square miles (72.5 km2), of which 23.2 square miles (60.0 km2) is land and 4.8 square miles (12.5 km2), or 17.24%, is water.
Top Schools For Physical Therapy Gulf Shores AL
Picking the ideal physical therapist school is an important initial decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional critical questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice also. You originally come to this website because of your interest in getting information on Top Schools For Physical Therapy. However, as you begin your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that many variables will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to go to different schools to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the right selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Gulf Shores AL.
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