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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Greenville Alabama

Greenville Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Greenville AL is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the proper education and training. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are thinking about to make certain they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered in addition to location and cost. 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Greenville Alabama physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying locations, such as Greenville AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop 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
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Greenville AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under 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 heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Greenville Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is attainable 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 preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Greenville AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually made available by community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and usually include 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in a number of 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 eliminated and is no longer available in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Degrees

Greenville Alabama female student taking physical therapist courses onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Greenville AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of 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 programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you probably have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Greenville AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you want to make certain that you select the program that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. 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 enroll in an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting 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 organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Greenville AL physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your college options. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students dropped out 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 college's job placement program, particularly in the Greenville AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also affirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you select provides both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing have partnerships with Greenville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional connections in the Greenville healthcare community and assist with job placement once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few 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 therapist school they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Greenville AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT colleges offer some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of aid is offered. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist program you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Greenville AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Greenville Physical Therapy Degrees

Choose the Right Greenville Physical Therapy School

Choosing the right physical therapy school is a necessary first decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to different campuses to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Greenville Alabama.


 

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