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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist School Near Wetumpka Alabama

Wetumpka Alabama physical therapist working with woman using balance ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Wetumpka AL is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the proper training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate the ones you are looking at to make certain they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated along with cost and location. But before we talk about 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?

Wetumpka Alabama DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Wetumpka AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • 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 several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Wetumpka Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the one 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. Below are brief summaries of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Wetumpka AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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 finish, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.

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 United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Wetumpka Alabama female student taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Wetumpka AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be significantly less than comparable on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you probably have made a decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Wetumpka AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to look into other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you enroll in the program that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you enroll in an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact several Wetumpka AL physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your school options. It may also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school'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 medical care field is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you select furnishes both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Wetumpka AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to get practical 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 develop professional relationships in the Wetumpka medical community and help with job placement once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the typical 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 decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Wetumpka AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes naturally 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 choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT schools provide some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance department and see what kind of help is available. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy school you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Wetumpka AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Wetumpka Physical Therapist Degrees

Choose the Right Wetumpka Physical Therapy School

Selecting the best physical therapist school is a necessary first decision you have to make to launch a gratifying career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to visit each of the colleges to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Wetumpka Alabama.


 

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