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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Phenix City Alabama

Phenix City Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Phenix City AL is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate the ones you are considering to make sure they will provide a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest 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 discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Phenix City Alabama physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, including Phenix City AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor 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
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Phenix City AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Phenix City Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is offered 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 readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Phenix City AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to advance 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 the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to complete and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a practicing licensed 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 overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in a number of 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 in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Programs Online

Phenix City Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Phenix City AL residence. Online programs 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 programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you probably have come to decision concerning a few of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Phenix City AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to look into additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college options. Also, you want to be sure that you choose the school that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are considering have earned 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 college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact several Phenix City AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your program selections. It may also be a good idea 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 couple of relevant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapist schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Phenix City AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you choose provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are reviewing have associations with Phenix City AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Phenix City health care community and assist with job placement once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. 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 talk with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Phenix City AL residence. Those who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college 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 typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department and find out what kind of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist college you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Phenix City AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Phenix City Online Physical Therapist Training

Choose the Best Phenix City Physical Therapy School

Picking the ideal physical therapy program is an important initial decision you have to make to start a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are other important questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may want to go to each of the colleges to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Phenix City Alabama.


 

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