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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Glencoe Alabama

Glencoe Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Glencoe AL is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are considering to make sure they will supply a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not 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 important qualifications that need to be considered along with cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Glencoe Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, including Glencoe AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression 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
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Glencoe AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Glencoe Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three 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 target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Glencoe AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a licensed practicing 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 essential component in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.

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 attainable in the USA. 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 Therapy Schools Online

Glencoe Alabama woman taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Glencoe AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number 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 disciplined enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Glencoe AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to research other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you need to be sure that you enroll in the school that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools 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 schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with several Glencoe AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your school selections. It might also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Glencoe AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the program has a large network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you choose 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 every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are reviewing have associations with Glencoe AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Glencoe healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the typical 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 determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Glencoe AL residence. Students 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. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college 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 commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT schools offer some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and see what kind of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist college you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Glencoe AL area, make sure that they are available. 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 enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Glencoe Physical Therapy Degrees

Choose the Right Glencoe Physical Therapist School

Selecting the right physical therapy school is an important initial decision you must make to launch a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that many factors will guide you to your final decision. You might want to visit different campuses to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Glencoe Alabama.


 

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