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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy College Near Pleasant Grove Alabama

Pleasant Grove Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Pleasant Grove AL is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated 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 obtain the proper education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate the ones you are looking at to ensure they will furnish a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Pleasant Grove Alabama DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as 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 the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop 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
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Pleasant Grove AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Offered

Pleasant Grove Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Pleasant Grove AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare students to progress 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. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to complete and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want 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 commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in several states for licensing also.

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 United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Pleasant Grove Alabama woman taking physical therapist courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature 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 in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online part of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Pleasant Grove AL residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding a few of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Pleasant Grove AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college options. Moreover, you want to be sure that you pick the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT program's reputation, beginning 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 also. Contact a few Pleasant Grove AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college options. It might also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, 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 Pleasant Grove AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you enroll in furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. 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 college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are interested in have partnerships with Pleasant Grove AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Pleasant Grove medical community and help with job placement after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the typical teacher to student 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 a chance to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Pleasant Grove AL home. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? The majority of DPT schools provide some form of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid office and find out what kind of assistance is available. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might 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, learn what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy college you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Pleasant Grove AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Pleasant Grove Physical Therapist Schools

Choose the Best Pleasant Grove Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the best physical therapy program is a necessary initial decision you need to make to start a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you pick should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are other important questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that many factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to go to each of the colleges to view their facilities and talk to active 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 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 education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Pleasant Grove Alabama.


 

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