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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Guntersville Alabama

Guntersville Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Guntersville AL is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the appropriate education and training. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are considering to make certain they will deliver a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered along with location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Guntersville Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Guntersville AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design 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 abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Guntersville AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something 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 prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Guntersville Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one 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 readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Guntersville AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often provided 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 curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to complete and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program must also 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 important element along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.

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 attainable in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Colleges

Guntersville Alabama female student taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online part of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Guntersville AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition might be significantly lower than comparable on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative 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 most likely have made a decision concerning some of your initial questions, including 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 since there are so many PT colleges within the Guntersville AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to look into additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Moreover, you need to make certain that you choose the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier 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 receive 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, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call several Guntersville AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your school options. It might also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Guntersville AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you select provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are reviewing have relationships with Guntersville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Guntersville health care community and assist with job placement once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the typical 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 students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Guntersville AL residence. Individuals who have opted 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 concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of help is offered. They at least should help in obtaining 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 you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist program you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Guntersville AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Guntersville Physical Therapy Colleges

Choose the Best Guntersville Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the best physical therapist program is an important initial decision you have to make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that many factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to go to different campuses to see their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Guntersville Alabama.


 

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