Physical Therapist Schools | Get Your Physical Therapy Degree – Helena AL

How to Select a Physical Therapist Program near Helena 35080

Helena AL physical therapy school student with volunteerGetting a physical therapy degree near Helena AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it’s necessary to investigate the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will furnish a quality education and comply with your state’s licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered along with 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 the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Helena AL physical therapist helping patient walkPhysical therapists work in varying settings, including Helena 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 individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes.
  • Heart attacks.
  • Sports injuries.
  • Burn injuries.
  • Knee Replacement.
  • Sciatica.
  • Multiple Sclerosis.

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Helena AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Helena AL physical therapist applying acupuncture to patientThere are three physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is attainable to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degree levels that are offered in the Helena AL area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically provided by junior or community colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the program.
  • Bachelor’s Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to ready students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor’s degrees, they normally require four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a licensed practicing 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 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in a number of 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 United States. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master’s or even a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Schools Online

woman attending physical therapy school online in Helena ALAlthough not as common as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees 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 in proximity of an available internship. However, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student’s Helena AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

By now you probably have come to decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to earn, where you want 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 Helena AL area and throughout Alabama, you’ll need to look into additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you pick the school that is best for you. That’s why we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are considering have earned 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 therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School’s Reputation? Along with accreditation, it’s important that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT program’s reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact some Helena AL physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your program selections. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the School’s Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school’s job placement program, particularly in the Helena AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it’s an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It’s imperative that the program you enroll in provides both excellent training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have associations with Helena AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Helena healthcare community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Helena AL residence. Individuals 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 importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that don’t reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and find out what type of aid is offered. 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 eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist college you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Helena AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Earning Your Physical Therapy Degree 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 Alma Mater.

Helena, Alabama

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 named Helena the 13th "Best Place to Raise Your Kids" in 2007.[4] 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.[5] The Alabama League of Municipalities awarded Helena the 2008 Municipal Achievement Award (population 10,001 to 20,000).[6]

Helena initially incorporated in 1877, but reincorporated in 1917 after errors were discovered in the initial incorporation papers.[7] It did not first appear on the U.S. Census until 1920, giving credence to the later date of incorporation.

The initial settlers to Helena, initially named Cove, were veterans of the final campaigns of the War of 1812. Members of Andrew Jackson's army who cut through the brush were attracted to the quiet, peaceful valleys and streams after the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. These first settlers were reported to arrive in 1849 and were predated by the Creek Indian tribes who these settlers had battled. By 1856, the Cove post office opened. Shortly thereafter, the settlers changed the name of the town to Hillsboro.

Pick the Ideal Physical Therapist School near Helena AL

Deciding on the ideal physical therapy school is a necessary first decision you have to make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are additional important questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college, keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to each of the colleges to view their facilities and speak with 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 additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Helena AL.

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