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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Glencoe Alabama

Glencoe Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Glencoe AL is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are looking at to make certain they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated along with cost and location. 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's Job Description?

Glencoe Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, such as Glencoe AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Glencoe AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Glencoe Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Glencoe 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 equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by junior or community colleges, and take about two 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 created as pre-physical therapy training to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 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 also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in several 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 United States. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Glencoe Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Glencoe AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly less than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

By now you most likely have come to decision concerning a few of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Glencoe AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to look into other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to be sure that you choose the college that is best for you. That's why we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously 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 program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Glencoe AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your school options. 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Glencoe AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even exceptional. It also confirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you choose provides both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist schools you are evaluating have partnerships with Glencoe AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Glencoe healthcare community and help with job placement once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Glencoe AL residence. Students who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even 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 usually charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial aid department and find out what kind of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy program you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Glencoe AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Glencoe Online Physical Therapy Schools

Enroll in the Best Glencoe Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the best physical therapist program is an important initial decision you must make to start a gratifying career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are other critical questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your final decision. You may decide to visit 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 reach 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 appropriate selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Glencoe Alabama.


 

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