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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Pike Road Alabama

Pike Road Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Pike Road AL is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the necessary training and education. A PT must also be 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 necessary to evaluate the ones you are looking at to make sure they will deliver a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose 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 evaluated besides cost and location. But before we talk about 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?

Pike Road Alabama physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Pike Road AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Pike Road AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Pike Road Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Pike Road AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. 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 prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want 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 overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer offered 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 existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Colleges Online

Pike Road Alabama female student taking physical therapist courses onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Pike Road AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding several of your initial queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Pike Road AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you need to be sure that you enroll in the college that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are considering have earned 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 choose an online college, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Pike Road AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your program selections. It might also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two useful statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. First 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 Pike Road AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or even exceptional. It also confirms that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you choose provides both excellent training and a curriculum that supports 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are interested in have associations with Pike Road AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional connections in the Pike Road health care community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for 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 an opportunity to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Pike Road AL home. Those who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. 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 need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some type of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid office and see what type of assistance is offered. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist program you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Pike Road AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Pike Road Online Physical Therapy Training

Choose the Right Pike Road Physical Therapy School

Selecting the right physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you must make to begin a gratifying career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are additional critical questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your final decision. You may decide to go to each of the schools to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Pike Road Alabama.


 

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