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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Course 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 field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are thinking about to ensure they will supply a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered along with location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Roanoke Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, such as Roanoke AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Roanoke AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Roanoke Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as 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 be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often made available by community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to finish and commonly 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 also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the total commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not only 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 phased out and is no longer offered in the USA. Some licensed 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 Schools

Roanoke Alabama female student taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined 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 program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Roanoke AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be somewhat lower than similar on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you most likely have made a decision regarding some of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Roanoke AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you pick the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 enroll in an online college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact a few Roanoke AL physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your program options. It may also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Roanoke AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also confirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you enroll in provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Roanoke AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to receive practical experience 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 establish professional connections in the Roanoke medical community and assist with job placement after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for 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 want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate 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 also.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Roanoke AL home. Students who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid office and see what type of help is available. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Roanoke AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Roanoke Physical Therapy Degrees

Enroll in the Right Roanoke Physical Therapist School

Choosing the best physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have addressed 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 college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that many variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit different colleges to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the right selection. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Roanoke Alabama.


 

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