How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Greenville Alabama
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Greenville AL is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the appropriate education and training. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are thinking about to ensure they will supply a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the closest 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 cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists work in varying settings, including Greenville AL private practices, hospitals, 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 mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Greenville AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are three physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single 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 explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Greenville 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 earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a component of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prepare students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to complete and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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 three years to finish, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential component in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, 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 available in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Degrees
While not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Greenville AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat lower than similar on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
At this point you probably have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary queries, like the type of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Greenville AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you want to make certain that you select the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Find out if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 choose an online school, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with a few Greenville AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your school selections. It might also be prudent to contact 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 relevant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Greenville AL area? If a program 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 college has a wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are assessing have associations with Greenville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Greenville medical community and help with job placement after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering 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 final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Greenville AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance department and see what kind of assistance is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist program you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Greenville AL area, check that they are available. 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, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Greenville Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the right physical therapy college is an important initial decision you need to make to begin a rewarding career in the healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you choose should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that many variables will guide you to your final decision. You might want to visit different schools to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Greenville Alabama.