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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Troy Alabama

Troy Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Troy AL is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are looking at to make certain they will supply a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to cost and location. But before we talk about 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Troy Alabama physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Troy AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Troy AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Troy Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Troy 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 a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to finish and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an important element in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in several 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 attainable 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 instituted.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Troy Alabama female student taking physical therapy courses onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Troy AL residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you most likely have come to decision concerning a few of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Troy AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to make certain that you choose the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier 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 enroll in an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Troy AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your program 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 filed against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean 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 higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you choose furnishes both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have associations with Troy AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Troy healthcare community and help with job placement once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly 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 student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Troy AL home. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT colleges provide some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and see what kind of aid is available. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy program you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Troy AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Troy Physical Therapy Courses

Enroll in the Right Troy Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the best physical therapy school is an important initial decision you must make to begin a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that many variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit different schools to see their facilities and talk to current 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 be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Troy Alabama.


 

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