How to Find the Right Physical Therapist College near Florence 35630
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Florence AL is an essential 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 gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it’s important to investigate the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will furnish 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 nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important 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 the options for education.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists practice in varying locations, including Florence AL hospitals, health clinics, 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 individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries.
- Cardiac arrest.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Fire injuries.
- Hip Replacement.
- Multiple Sclerosis.
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Florence AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees
There are three physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single 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 brief explanations of degrees that are offered in the Florence 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 earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the course of study.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to ready students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor’s degrees, they normally take four years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required if you want 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 commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential element in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment 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 taken the place of the Master’s of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer offered in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master’s or in some cases a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Online Programs
While not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student’s Florence AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition might be significantly lower than similar on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding several of your preliminary queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Florence AL area and across Alabama, you’ll need to research other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school options. Moreover, you want to make certain that you select the program that is best for you. That’s the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Ask if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. 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 select an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program’s Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it’s imperative that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT program’s reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact some Florence AL physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your college options. It might also be prudent to check with 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 couple of important statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After 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 Florence AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it’s an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It’s imperative that the college you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have partnerships with Florence AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional connections in the Florence health care community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Florence AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble 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 school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance department and see what kind of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist college you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Florence AL area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask 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 Florence Alabama?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Florence AL area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.
Florence is the largest and principal city of the Florence-Muscle Shoals Metropolitan Statistical Area (which includes Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia metropolitan areas in Colbert and Lauderdale counties). Florence is considered northwestern Alabama's primary economic hub.
Annual tourism events include the W. C. Handy Music Festival in the summer and the Renaissance Faire in the fall. Landmarks in Florence include the Rosenbaum House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home located in Alabama.
Florence and Lauderdale County have one hospital, Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital. ECM is a 358 bed facility owned by RCCH HealthCare Partners in Brentwood, Tennessee. In 2010 RCCH HealthCare Partners announced that they would build a new hospital in Florence. The hospital is due to be completed in December 2018.
Choose the Right Physical Therapist Training Program near Florence AL
Deciding on the best physical therapist school is a necessary first decision you need to make to begin a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you pick should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional relevant questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college, bear in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may want to visit different colleges to see their facilities and talk 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 following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the best choice. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Florence AL.
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