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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy College Near Trussville Alabama

Trussville Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Trussville AL is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the proper education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to research those you are thinking about to ensure they will deliver a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered besides location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Trussville Alabama physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, including Trussville AL private practices, hospitals, 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 earlier touched on, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Trussville AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Offered

Trussville Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is offered 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 prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Trussville 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 equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often offered by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to complete and usually include 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 3 years to complete, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer attainable in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Colleges

Trussville Alabama female student taking physical therapist courses onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus options, there are some 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 close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Trussville AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition may be significantly lower than comparable on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

At this point you probably have come to decision concerning a few of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Trussville AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you need to be sure that you choose the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. 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 choose an online program, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can investigate 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 as well. Get in touch with several Trussville AL physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college options. It might also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Trussville AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the school has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you select furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every 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 fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have associations with Trussville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Trussville health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Trussville AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps 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 commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department and find out what type of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy college you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Trussville AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Trussville Online Physical Therapy Degrees

Choose the Right Trussville Physical Therapy School

Selecting the right physical therapy school is an important initial decision you need to make to start a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you pick should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that a number of factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to visit different campuses to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Trussville Alabama.


 

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