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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Wetumpka Alabama

Wetumpka Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Wetumpka AL is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled 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 need to receive the proper education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will furnish a quality education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Wetumpka Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, such as Wetumpka AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Wetumpka AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Wetumpka Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Wetumpka AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by community colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to complete and commonly 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 also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the overall commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an intregal component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, 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 offered in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Wetumpka Alabama woman taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, 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 college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online part of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Wetumpka AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

By now you most likely have come to decision concerning some of your preliminary questions, like the kind of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Wetumpka AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Also, you need to make certain that you pick the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional 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 can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple 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. Get in touch with several Wetumpka AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your college options. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Wetumpka AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the school has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you select provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are assessing have relationships with Wetumpka AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional connections in the Wetumpka healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Wetumpka AL home. Those who have decided 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 importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide 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 commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT colleges offer some form of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and see what kind of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist school you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Wetumpka AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Wetumpka Physical Therapist Programs

Choose the Right Wetumpka Physical Therapy School

Picking the right physical therapy college is a necessary first decision you need to make to begin a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you pick should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are other important questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your final decision. You might decide to visit each of the colleges to see their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Wetumpka Alabama.


 

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