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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Troy Alabama

Troy Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Troy AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are thinking about to make certain they will furnish a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Troy Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, including Troy AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

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

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Troy Alabama DPT 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 choices, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Troy AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to ready students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate 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 finish and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want 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 3 years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential component in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, 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 offered in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Troy Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Troy AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you most likely have made a decision regarding some of your initial questions, including the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Troy AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Also, you want to make certain that you enroll in the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a national or a regional 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 select an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call several Troy AL physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your program selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, 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 Troy AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you choose furnishes both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have associations with Troy AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional connections in the Troy medical community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

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

Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department and see what type of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapist program you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Troy AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Troy Online Physical Therapy Courses

Enroll in the Best Troy Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the ideal physical therapist college is an important initial decision you need to make to begin a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you select should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are other important questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your final decision. You may decide to go to each of the colleges to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Troy Alabama.


 

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