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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Troy Alabama

Troy Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Troy AL is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the appropriate education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate those you are considering to make sure they will deliver a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated besides 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?

Troy Alabama DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying locations, including Troy 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 patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Troy AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may 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 getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Troy Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Troy AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a practicing licensed 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. Practical or clinical training is an important element in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely 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 eliminated and is no longer available in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Troy Alabama female student taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs 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 requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Troy AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be significantly less than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning several of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Troy AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to make sure that you enroll in the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier stated, 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 school, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can research a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact a few Troy AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your college options. It may also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Troy AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also affirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you enroll in furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are assessing have partnerships with Troy AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Troy health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer 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 monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Troy AL residence. Those who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern 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 decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT schools offer some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and see what type of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Troy AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Troy Physical Therapist Colleges

Enroll in the Right Troy Physical Therapy School

Choosing the ideal physical therapist school is a necessary first decision you must make to start a rewarding career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are other important questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that many factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to different schools to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Troy Alabama.


 

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