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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Troy Alabama

Troy Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Troy AL is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to research those you are considering to make sure they will deliver a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered along with 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 what the educational options are.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Troy Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, including Troy AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Troy AL health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Troy Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Troy AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by junior or community colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to complete and usually 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 complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just 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 USA. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Troy Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Troy AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat lower than similar on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you probably have made a decision regarding several of your initial questions, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Troy AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to look into other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college options. Moreover, you want to make sure that you select the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. 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 choose an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can research a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact several Troy AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college selections. It may also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support 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 field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you enroll in provides both excellent training and a course of study that supports 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements vary 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 exams.

Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have associations with Troy AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Troy health care community and help with job placement after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Troy AL home. Those who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to keep 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 may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT colleges offer some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy program you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Troy AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Troy Online Physical Therapist Courses

Enroll in the Right Troy Physical Therapy School

Choosing the right physical therapy school is an important first decision you must make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are other relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that many factors will guide you to your final decision. You may want to visit different campuses to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Troy Alabama.


 

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