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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Pell City Alabama

Pell City Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Pell City AL is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the healthcare field. 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 provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are considering to ensure they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home 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's Job Description?

Pell City Alabama DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Pell City AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Pell City AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Pell City Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Pell City AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 total commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential component in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely 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 phased out and is no longer offered in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Pell City Alabama female student taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Pell City AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar on campus alternatives, and costs 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 alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding some of your initial questions, such as the type of physical therapist degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Pell City AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to make sure that you choose the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier mentioned, 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 college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call a few Pell City AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your school 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 Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Pell City AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you select furnishes 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 required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as 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 amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are interested in have associations with Pell City AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Pell City medical community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching 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 talk with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Pell City AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern 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 decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Most DPT colleges provide some type of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and find out what type of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools 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 College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy college you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Pell City AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Pell City Physical Therapy Schools

Choose the Best Pell City Physical Therapy School

Choosing the right physical therapist program is an important first decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the health care profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are other critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that numerous factors will guide you toward your final decision. You might decide to visit each of the colleges to view 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 practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Pell City Alabama.


 

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