Home >> Alabama >> Sylacauga >> Physical Therapist Degrees


Get Free Info on Physical Therapy Schools Sylacauga AL 35014

How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Sylacauga Alabama

Sylacauga Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Sylacauga AL is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated 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 get the proper training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are thinking about to ensure they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Sylacauga Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Sylacauga AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Sylacauga AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Sylacauga Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Sylacauga AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to ready students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order 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 investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in some 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 phased out and is no longer offered in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Degrees Online

Sylacauga Alabama female student taking physical therapist courses onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Sylacauga AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat less than comparable on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you most likely have come to decision regarding several of your initial questions, such as the type of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Sylacauga AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school options. Also, you want to make sure that you select the school that is best for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you enroll in an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. 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 may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call several Sylacauga AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your college selections. It may also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Sylacauga AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the program has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you select furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are reviewing have associations with Sylacauga AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Sylacauga healthcare community and help with job placement once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the average teacher to student 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 a chance to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they select will need to be within travelling distance of their Sylacauga AL home. Those who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something 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 need 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 schools offer some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and see what type of help is offered. 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 provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapist school you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Sylacauga AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Sylacauga Online Physical Therapist Courses

Enroll in the Best Sylacauga Physical Therapist School

Selecting the ideal physical therapy college is an important initial decision you have to make to start a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are other important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that numerous factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may want to visit different colleges to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the right selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Sylacauga Alabama.


 

Sylacauga Physical Therapy Degrees | Main | Sylacauga Physical Therapy Major Programs