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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy College Near Phenix City Alabama

Phenix City Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Phenix City AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will deliver a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Phenix City Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, including Phenix City AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Phenix City AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Phenix City Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on 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. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically 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 course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the total commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, 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 attainable in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Colleges

Phenix City Alabama female student taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Phenix City AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be significantly less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to attain, 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 schools within the Phenix City AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to research additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college options. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you select the college that is best for you. That's why we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online program, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact several Phenix City AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your college options. 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 submitted against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once 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 college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even exceptional. It also affirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you choose furnishes both excellent training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. 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. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT 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 colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Phenix City AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Phenix City medical community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they select will have to be within driving distance of their Phenix City AL home. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep 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 often 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? The majority of DPT schools provide some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and find out what type of help is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy program you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Phenix City AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Phenix City Online Physical Therapist Schools

Enroll in the Right Phenix City Physical Therapist School

Selecting the best physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you must 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 college you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are other critical questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that many variables will guide you to your final 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 critical question: will this school help me reach 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 proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Phenix City Alabama.


 

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