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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Pike Road Alabama

Pike Road Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Pike Road AL is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the proper training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are looking at to make certain they will furnish a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered in addition to 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?

Pike Road Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, including Pike Road AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Pike Road AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Pike Road Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Pike Road AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically provided by community or junior colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally take 4 years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 three years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in several 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 even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Pike Road Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs offered, even more 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 close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online part of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Pike Road AL home. 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 options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you most likely have made a decision concerning several of your preliminary questions, including the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Pike Road AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you choose the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier mentioned, 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 school, it can 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 recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting 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 some Pike Road AL physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your college selections. It might also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy schools you are considering. One 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, how many of them are being hired with the help of the college'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 field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the school has a wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you choose furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist 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 supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Pike Road AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Pike Road health care community and help with job placement once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering 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 final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Pike Road AL home. Students who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern 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 even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT schools provide some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are considering have a financial assistance office and find out what type of assistance is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Pike Road AL area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Pike Road Online Physical Therapy Programs

Choose the Best Pike Road Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the ideal physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are additional critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your final decision. You might decide to visit each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me accomplish 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 best choice. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Pike Road Alabama.


 

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