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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Roanoke Alabama

Roanoke Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Roanoke 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 provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are thinking about to make certain they will provide a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Roanoke Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Roanoke AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Roanoke AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise 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 getting into 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

Roanoke Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Roanoke AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often made available by junior or community colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 3 years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an important element in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just 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 offered in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Roanoke Alabama woman taking physical therapist courses onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Roanoke AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition may be significantly lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you probably have come to decision concerning some of your initial questions, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Roanoke AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to research other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you want to be sure that you choose the college that is best for you. That's why we have compiled a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 enroll in an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact a few Roanoke AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your program selections. It may 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 schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Roanoke AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also affirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential 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 practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate 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 additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are assessing have partnerships with Roanoke AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Roanoke medical community and assist with job placement once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools 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 ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Roanoke AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area 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 typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT colleges offer some form of financial support to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department and see what type of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapist college you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Roanoke AL area, make sure 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 have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Roanoke Online Physical Therapist Programs

Enroll in the Right Roanoke Physical Therapy School

Picking the right physical therapy school is a necessary first decision you must make to launch a gratifying career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you to your final decision. You might 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 college help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal selection. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Roanoke Alabama.


 

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