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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Russellville Alabama

Russellville Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Russellville AL is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will furnish a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to cost and location. 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 the options for education.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Russellville Alabama physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Russellville AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Russellville AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Russellville Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Russellville AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually provided by community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required 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 take 4 years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order to become a practicing licensed 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 complete, making the total commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an important component along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

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 attainable in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

Russellville Alabama female student taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Russellville AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat lower than similar on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding some of your initial questions, like the type of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Russellville AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college options. Also, you need to make certain that you select the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 choose an online school, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting 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 outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call a few Russellville AL physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your college 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 submitted against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Russellville AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even exceptional. It also affirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you select furnishes both excellent training and a course of study that supports 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 therapist program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are assessing have partnerships with Russellville AL hospitals or clinics 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 most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Russellville healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Russellville AL home. Students who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing 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 have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of help is available. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Russellville AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Russellville Online Physical Therapy Programs

Choose the Best Russellville Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the best physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you must make to launch a rewarding career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional critical questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to each of the schools to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Russellville Alabama.


 

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