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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Pleasant Grove Alabama

Pleasant Grove Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Pleasant Grove AL is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the necessary training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are considering to make certain they will provide a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we cover 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 is a Physical Therapist?

Pleasant Grove Alabama physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, including Pleasant Grove AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Pleasant Grove AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Pleasant Grove Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Pleasant Grove AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to complete and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order 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 3 years to complete, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in some 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. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Schools

Pleasant Grove Alabama female student taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Pleasant Grove AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat lower than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you most likely have made a decision regarding several of your initial questions, including the type of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Pleasant Grove AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to make certain that you enroll in the school that is ideal 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 potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting 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 also. Get in touch with several Pleasant Grove AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your school options. It might also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students left due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Pleasant Grove AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the school has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you enroll in 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 needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have relationships with Pleasant Grove AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way 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 assist students and graduates develop professional connections in the Pleasant Grove medical community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Pleasant Grove AL home. Those who have chosen to attend classes online obviously 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 consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid department and find out what type of help is available. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist program you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Pleasant Grove AL area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Pleasant Grove Online Physical Therapy Majors

Enroll in the Right Pleasant Grove Physical Therapy School

Picking the ideal physical therapy program is an important first decision you must make to begin a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you decide on should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that numerous variables will lead you to your final decision. You may want to go to different colleges to see their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Pleasant Grove Alabama.


 

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