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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Greenville Alabama

Greenville Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Greenville AL is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will furnish a quality education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered along with 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 is a Physical Therapist?

Greenville Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in varying settings, including Greenville AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Greenville AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite 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

Greenville Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one 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 can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often provided by community or junior colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 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 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely 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 available in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Colleges Online

Greenville Alabama woman taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program 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 many cases more economical. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning some of your preliminary questions, like the kind of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Greenville AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to research other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Also, you need to make certain that you select the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact several Greenville AL physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your college options. It might also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Greenville AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you choose provides both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have partnerships with Greenville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Greenville health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching what the average student to teacher 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 speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Greenville AL residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear 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 may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally 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 provide some form of financial support to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance 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 may qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapist college you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Greenville AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out 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 Online Physical Therapy Training

Enroll in the Right Greenville Physical Therapy School

Picking the right physical therapy school is an important first decision you must make to start a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that a number of variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to go to each of the colleges to see their facilities and speak to current 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 right selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Greenville Alabama.


 

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