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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist College Near Pell City Alabama

Pell City Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Pell City AL is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the proper education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will deliver a quality education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered besides 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?

Pell City Alabama DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, such as Pell City 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 in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Pell City AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Pell City Alabama DPT working with man in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically provided by community colleges, and require two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to finish and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order 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 investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an important element along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not only 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 eliminated and is no longer available in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Colleges

Pell City Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough 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. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Pell City AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition may be significantly lower than comparable on-campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you probably have come to decision concerning a few of your initial queries, like the kind 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 considering there are so many PT colleges within the Pell City AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you enroll in the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national 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 select an online college, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call several Pell City AL physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any advice 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 filed against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Pell City AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you choose provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have partnerships with Pell City AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Pell City healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide 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 therapy colleges you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Pell City AL residence. Those 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. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need 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 Aid Provided? Most DPT schools provide some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and see what kind of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist school you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Pell City AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Pell City Physical Therapy Schools

Enroll in the Best Pell City Physical Therapy School

Selecting the best physical therapy school is an important first decision you have to make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are other relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your final decision. You might want to visit different schools to see their facilities and speak with active 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 adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Pell City Alabama.


 

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