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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy School Near Greenville Alabama

Greenville Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Greenville AL is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the health 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 obtain the necessary training and education. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are looking at to make certain they will provide a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose 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 must be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Greenville Alabama physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Greenville AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to deal with 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 abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Greenville AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Greenville Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Greenville AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by community or junior colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a licensed practicing 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 3 years to finish, making the total commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an important element in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in some 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 offered in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Degrees

Greenville Alabama woman taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Greenville AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition might be significantly less than comparable on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary questions, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Greenville AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to explore additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school options. Also, you want to make certain that you pick the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. 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 enroll in an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact some Greenville AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your school selections. 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Greenville AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the college has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you select provides both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are assessing have partnerships with Greenville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Greenville medical community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the average 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 an opportunity to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Greenville AL home. Those who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly 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 Aid Offered? The majority of DPT schools supply some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapy college you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Greenville AL area, make certain that they are offered. 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, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Greenville Physical Therapist Degrees

Choose the Best Greenville Physical Therapy School

Selecting the best physical therapist college is a necessary first decision you need to make to begin a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are other relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that a number of factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit each of the colleges to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Greenville Alabama.


 

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