How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Training Program near Helena Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Helena AL is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it’s necessary to evaluate those you are thinking about to ensure they will deliver a quality education and meet your state’s licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest 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 what questions you should ask, we’ll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists work in varying settings, including Helena 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 the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Helena AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees
There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is available to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degree levels that are offered in the Helena AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to become 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 provided by community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the program.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor’s degrees, they normally take four years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want 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 seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential component in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in some 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 USA. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master’s or in some cases a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Online Degrees
Although not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work 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 part of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student’s Helena AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Helena AL area and across Alabama, you’ll have to explore additional qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you enroll in the college that is ideal for you. That’s why we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Find out if the programs you are considering have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s important that both the physical therapy school and program 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 mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program’s Reputation? Along with accreditation, it’s important that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. 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 search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call a few Helena AL physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your school options. It might 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 two relevant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy colleges you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the school’s job placement program, particularly in the Helena AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it’s an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It’s imperative that the school you choose furnishes both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have relationships with Helena AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Helena health care community and assist with job placement once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. 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 talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Helena AL home. Those who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don’t reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT schools offer some type of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance office and see what type of assistance is available. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy 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 College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist program you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Helena AL area, make certain 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 have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enrolling in a Physical Therapy Program near Helena Alabama?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Helena AL area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future campus.
Helena (pronunciation hel-LE-nah) is a city in Jefferson and Shelby counties in the state of Alabama. Helena is considered a suburb of Birmingham and part of the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area. As of the 2010 census, the population was 16,793.
Helena is highly regarded as a place to live and raise children; Business Week ranked the city as the 13th "Best Place to Raise Your Kids" in 2007. It has the eighth-lowest crime rate per population in the U.S., and the city was ranked in Money magazine's 2007 list of "Best Places to Live: Top 100" in the U.S., placing at number 91. The Alabama League of Municipalities awarded Helena the 2008 Municipal Achievement Award (population 10,001 to 20,000).
Helena initially incorporated in 1877, but reincorporated in 1917 after errors were discovered in the initial incorporation papers. Its population was not recorded separately in the U.S. Census until 1920, reflecting the later date of incorporation.
Physical Therapy Assistant Education Helena AL
Deciding on the ideal physical therapist college is an important initial decision you need to make to start a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are other critical questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice also. You originally come to this website because of your interest in getting information on Physical Therapy Assistant Education. However, as you commence your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that a number of factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to visit each of the schools to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal selection. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Helena AL.
Additional Therapeutic Locations in Alabama
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