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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Russellville Alabama

Russellville Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Russellville AL is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the proper training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate the ones you are considering to ensure they will furnish a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select 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 in addition to location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Russellville Alabama DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, such as Russellville AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

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

Physical Therapy Degrees

Russellville Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Russellville AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually provided by community or junior colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prep students 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 becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also 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 complete, making the total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only 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 phased out and is no longer attainable 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 existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Russellville Alabama female student taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Russellville 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 options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you most likely have made a decision concerning some of your initial questions, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Russellville AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to look into other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school options. Also, you need to make sure that you enroll in the college that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are considering 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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Russellville AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your college selections. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy schools you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Russellville AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the program has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you choose provides both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements 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 program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing have associations with Russellville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional connections in the Russellville health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

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

Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT schools provide some type of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance department and see what type of aid is available. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist college you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Russellville AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Russellville Online Physical Therapist Majors

Enroll in the Best Russellville Physical Therapist School

Choosing the ideal physical therapy school is a necessary initial decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that many variables will guide you to your final decision. You might want to visit different colleges to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me reach 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 options so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Russellville Alabama.


 

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