How to Enroll In a Physical Therapy Degree Program near Athens 35611
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Athens AL is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it’s essential to investigate those you are considering to make sure they will supply a superior education and meet your state’s licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated along with cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we’ll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Athens 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 the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Heart attacks.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Fire injuries.
- Knee Replacement.
- Cerebral Palsy.
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Athens AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. 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 considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are three physical therapy degree options available for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is offered to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are available in the Athens 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. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the course of study.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor’s degrees, they generally require four years to finish and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required 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). In addition to the bachelor’s degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not just 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 eliminated and is no longer available 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 current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Online Colleges
Although not as common as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student’s Athens AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition may be significantly less than comparable on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
By now you most likely have come to decision regarding some of your initial questions, like the type of physical therapy degree you want to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Athens AL area and across Alabama, you’ll need to look into additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you choose the program that is right for you. That’s why we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Ask if the programs you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national 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 college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the College’s Reputation? Along with accreditation, it’s important that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can look into 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 agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Athens AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your college options. It might also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the Program’s Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college’s job placement program, particularly in the Athens AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It’s important that the college you enroll in furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have relationships with Athens AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Athens health care community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Athens AL residence. Those who have opted 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 importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don’t reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support 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 assistance office and find out what kind of assistance is available. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist program you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Athens AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. 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.
Earning Your Physical Therapy Degree near Athens Alabama?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Athens AL area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.
Athens is a city in Limestone County, in the State of Alabama. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city is 21,897. The city is the county seat of Limestone County and is included in the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area.
Founded in 1818 by John Coffee, Robert Beaty, John D. Carroll, and John Read, Athens is one of the oldest incorporated cities in the State of Alabama, having been incorporated one year prior to the state's admittance to the Union in 1819. Limestone County was also created by an act of the Alabama Territorial Legislature in 1818. The town was first called Athenson, but was incorporated as Athens after the ancient city in Greece. The town's first mayor was Samuel Tanner, and the Tanner area, south of Athens, was named on his behalf.
The Athens area was the home of William Wyatt Bibb, the first Governor of Alabama, and its second Governor, his brother Thomas Bibb, who succeeded him in office when he died in a fall from his horse.
Select the Ideal Physical Therapy Training Program near Athens AL
Selecting the best physical therapist school is a necessary first decision you have to make to start a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other important questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program, keep in mind that a number of variables will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to go to each of the campuses to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Athens AL.
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