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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Glencoe Alabama

Glencoe Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Glencoe AL is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the appropriate training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are considering to ensure they will provide a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered in addition to location and cost. 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's Job Description?

Glencoe Alabama physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, such as Glencoe AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Glencoe AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Glencoe Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Glencoe AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to ready candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a licensed practicing 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 total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in several states for licensing also.

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 USA. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Programs

Glencoe Alabama female student taking physical therapist courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Glencoe AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat lower than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning a few of your initial questions, including the type of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Glencoe AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college options. Also, you need to be sure that you pick the college that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you enroll in an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call some Glencoe AL physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest 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 filed against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. First 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 hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Glencoe 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 exceptional. It also confirms that the school has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you choose provides both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have associations with Glencoe AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional connections in the Glencoe medical community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the average teacher to student 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 a chance to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Glencoe AL residence. Students 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 concern. Something to bear 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 may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid office and find out what type of assistance is offered. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Glencoe AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Glencoe Physical Therapy Training

Choose the Right Glencoe Physical Therapy School

Selecting the right physical therapist school is a necessary first decision you need to make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are additional relevant questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that a number of factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit different campuses to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Glencoe Alabama.


 

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