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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Roanoke Alabama

Roanoke Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Roanoke AL is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are considering to make certain they will supply a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered besides cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Roanoke Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Roanoke AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor 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
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Roanoke AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Roanoke Alabama DPT working with man in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a licensed practicing 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 complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an intregal component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in some states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Schools Online

Roanoke Alabama female student taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are a number of 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 close to the college 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 Roanoke AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

By now you most likely have come to decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Roanoke AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school options. Moreover, you want to be sure that you choose the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier mentioned, 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 school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can research a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact several Roanoke AL physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your school selections. It might also be a good idea 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 couple of important statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students dropped out due to 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 school's job placement program, particularly in the Roanoke AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you enroll in provides 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are interested in have partnerships with Roanoke AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Roanoke health care community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student 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 a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Roanoke AL residence. Individuals who have chosen 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 consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college 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 typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT colleges offer some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and see what type of assistance is offered. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist program you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Roanoke AL area, verify that they are offered. 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 enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Roanoke Online Physical Therapy Degrees

Enroll in the Best Roanoke Physical Therapist School

Picking the ideal physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you have to make to begin a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are other critical questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that many variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may want to visit each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Roanoke Alabama.


 

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