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

Pleasant Grove Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Pleasant Grove AL is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the proper training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will furnish a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to location and cost. 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 the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Pleasant Grove Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, including Pleasant Grove AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Pleasant Grove AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Pleasant Grove Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Pleasant Grove AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually provided by community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a licensed practicing 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 three years to finish, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential component in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not only 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 eliminated and is no longer available in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Colleges Online

Pleasant Grove Alabama woman taking physical therapist courses onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Pleasant Grove AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition can be significantly lower than similar on campus alternatives, and costs 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 option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding a few 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 schools within the Pleasant Grove AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to look into other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school options. Moreover, you want to make sure that you pick the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously stated, 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 college, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with a few Pleasant Grove AL physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your program 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 schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support 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 verifies that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you enroll in provides both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each 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 number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are assessing have relationships with Pleasant Grove AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Pleasant Grove medical community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. 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 converse with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they pick will need to be within driving 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 concern. 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 may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Pleasant Grove AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Pleasant Grove Online Physical Therapist Training

Enroll in the Right Pleasant Grove Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the ideal physical therapy school is a necessary first decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to different schools to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Pleasant Grove Alabama.


 

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