How to Select a Physical Therapy Degree Program near Tuscumbia 35674
Earning a physical therapy degree near Tuscumbia AL is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals 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 need to receive the proper education and training. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it’s essential to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will supply a quality education and comply with your state’s licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we’ll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, such as Tuscumbia AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries.
- Heart attacks.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Burn injuries.
- Knee Replacement.
- Multiple Sclerosis.
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Tuscumbia AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is offered to become 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. Below are short summaries of degrees that are offered in the Tuscumbia AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically provided by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the course of study.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor’s degrees, they normally require four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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). In addition to the bachelor’s degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in several 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 offered 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 current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Online Colleges
While not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student’s Tuscumbia AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number 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 disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding several of your preliminary questions, such as the type of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Tuscumbia AL area and across Alabama, you’ll need to look into other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you need to make sure that you enroll in the college that is right for you. That’s why we have compiled a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier stated, 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 may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s important that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program’s Reputation? Along with accreditation, it’s essential that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT college’s reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call some Tuscumbia AL physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your program options. It might also be a good idea to check with the Alabama 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 Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college’s job placement program, particularly in the Tuscumbia AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it’s an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It’s essential that the program you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have relationships with Tuscumbia AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to obtain hands on 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 establish professional relationships in the Tuscumbia health care community and help with job placement after licensing.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering 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 an opportunity to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist tech program also.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Tuscumbia AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern 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 choose 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 normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT schools provide some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of aid is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Tuscumbia AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Earning Your Physical Therapy Degree near Tuscumbia Alabama?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Tuscumbia AL area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.
Tuscumbia was the hometown of Helen Keller (Ivy Green) and much of the city is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Tuscumbia Historic District. The city serves as the location for the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
Tuscumbia had its beginnings when the Michael Dixon family arrived about 1816. They traded with Chief Tucumseh for the Tuscumbia Valley and built their home at the head of the big spring. From these humble dwellings quickly developed a village known as the Big Spring Community. The men of the community requested that the state legislature incorporate them as a city. The town was incorporated in 1820 as Ococoposa and is one of Alabama's oldest towns. In 1821, its name was changed to Big Spring and on December 22, 1822, to Tuscumbia, after the Chief Rainmaker of the Chickasaws.
Although shoals on the nearby Tennessee River made the river nearly impassable, a federal highway completed in 1820 provided the area with good access to markets. Tuscumbia soon became the center for agriculture in northern Alabama. A line to the town on the Tuscumbia, Courtland and Decatur Railroad was completed in 1832, and by 1850 Tuscumbia was a major railroad hub for train traffic throughout the South.
Choose the Ideal Physical Therapy Training Program near Tuscumbia AL
Picking the ideal physical therapist college is a necessary first decision you need to make to start a rewarding career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are additional critical questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist college, keep in mind that numerous factors will lead you to your final 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 critical question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Tuscumbia AL.
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