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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Roanoke Alabama

Roanoke Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Roanoke AL is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are considering to make sure they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered besides cost and location. But before we discuss 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 physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, including Roanoke AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

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

Physical Therapy Degrees Offered

Roanoke Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become 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. Below are brief explanations of degree levels that are available 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. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and usually 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 three years to finish, making the total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in several 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. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

Roanoke Alabama woman taking physical therapist courses onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Roanoke AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly less than comparable on-campus options, and costs 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 alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning some of your initial questions, like the type of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Roanoke AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to explore other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Moreover, you want to make sure that you select the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier 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 college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call some Roanoke AL physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your college selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower 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 placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Roanoke AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the school has a wide network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have relationships with Roanoke AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Roanoke health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Roanoke AL home. Individuals who have decided 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 concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

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

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Roanoke AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Roanoke Physical Therapist Programs

Enroll in the Best Roanoke Physical Therapist School

Selecting the ideal physical therapist school is a necessary first decision you need to make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that numerous factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to each of the schools to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me accomplish 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 field so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Roanoke Alabama.


 

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