How to Choose a Physical Therapy Program near Ellijay 30540
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Ellijay GA is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it’s necessary to evaluate those you are looking at to make sure they will provide a superior education and comply with your state’s licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we talk about 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 is a Physical Therapist’s Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in varying settings, such as Ellijay GA private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to 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. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Heart attacks.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Burn injuries.
- Knee Replacement.
- Multiple Sclerosis.
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Ellijay GA health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is attainable 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 short summaries of degrees that are available in the Ellijay GA area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually provided by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to ready students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor’s degrees, they typically require four years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 three years to complete, making the total investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an important element in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in some 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 attainable in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master’s or even a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Degrees Online
While not as common as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student’s Ellijay GA residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition may be significantly less than similar on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
By now you most likely have made a decision concerning several of your initial questions, like the type of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Ellijay GA area and across Georgia, you’ll need to research other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you enroll in the program that is best for you. That’s why we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Find out if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously 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 may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s essential that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to 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 Standing? Along with accreditation, it’s essential that the school and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT school’s reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact a few Ellijay GA physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your college options. It may also be a good idea to contact the Georgia Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.
What is the College’s Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the school’s job placement program, particularly in the Ellijay GA area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even exceptional. It also affirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It’s essential that the college you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria for Georgia or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are reviewing have relationships with Ellijay GA clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Ellijay healthcare community and assist with job placement once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Ellijay GA residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local 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 may 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 for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT schools provide some type of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial aid department and find out what type of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance might be available.
Can the School 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 opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Ellijay GA area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Earning Your Physical Therapy Degree near Ellijay Georgia?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Ellijay GA area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.
Gilmer County was cut from Cherokee County in 1832, and Ellijay became the county seat in 1834. Ellijay existed as a remote mountain community until the Marietta and Northern Georgia Railroad (later the L & N) arrived in 1884. This prompted something of a boom in the timber industry, but the area remained relatively isolated until the Zell Miller Mountain Parkway (Georgia 515, named for Georgia governor and U.S. senator Zell Miller) was completed in 1991.
Ellijay is located at the center of Gilmer County, at 34°41'41" north, 84°29'1" west (34.694656, -84.483566). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.6 square miles (9.2 km2), all land. It is situated at the confluence of the Ellijay and Cartecay rivers, forming the Coosawattee River, part of the Oostanaula/Coosa/Alabama River watershed. It is bordered to the east and south by the city of East Ellijay.
U.S. Route 76 bypasses the city center to the south and east. It leads west 24 miles (39 km) to Chatsworth and northeast 16 miles (26 km) to Blue Ridge. Georgia State Route 52 (Chatsworth Highway) also leads 24 miles (39 km) to Chatsworth, taking a more northerly route over Cohutta Mountain. Georgia State Route 515, the Zell Miller Mountain Parkway, leads northeast with US 76 to Blue Ridge and south 20 miles (32 km) to Jasper. Downtown Atlanta is 77 miles (124 km) to the south.
Enroll in the Ideal Physical Therapy College near Ellijay GA
Picking the best physical therapy college is an important initial decision you need to make to begin a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are other critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy program, keep in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me realize 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 ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Ellijay GA.
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