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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Wetumpka Alabama

Wetumpka Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Wetumpka AL is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the necessary training and education. A PT must also be licensed in all states, 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 essential to evaluate those you are considering to make sure they will provide a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated along with cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Wetumpka Alabama DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, such as Wetumpka AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Wetumpka AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Wetumpka Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Wetumpka AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by junior or community colleges, and require 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 developed as pre-physical therapy training to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take 4 years to complete and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order 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 three years to finish, making the total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an important element in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in several 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 phased out and is no longer attainable in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Colleges

Wetumpka Alabama woman taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Wetumpka AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat lower than similar on campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you probably have come to decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Wetumpka AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you pick the program that is best for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. 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 enroll in an online college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call a few Wetumpka AL physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your college selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, 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 Wetumpka AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you select furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that supports 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are assessing have partnerships with Wetumpka AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Wetumpka medical community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the rear 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 therapist schools you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Wetumpka AL residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have 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 Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT colleges offer some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid department and see what kind of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy college you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Wetumpka AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Wetumpka Online Physical Therapist Colleges

Choose the Best Wetumpka Physical Therapy School

Selecting the ideal physical therapy college is an important initial decision you must make to start a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that numerous variables will lead you to your final decision. You may want to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Wetumpka Alabama.


 

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