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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy College Near Scottsboro Alabama

Scottsboro Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Scottsboro AL is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the proper education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are considering to ensure they will furnish a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Scottsboro Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Scottsboro AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Scottsboro AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Scottsboro Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Scottsboro AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the total commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an important element along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely 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 available in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Colleges

Scottsboro Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, 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 requires that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Scottsboro AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition can be significantly less than similar on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding several of your initial queries, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Scottsboro AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you choose the college that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 select an online program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Scottsboro AL physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your program options. It may also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Scottsboro AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you choose provides both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have partnerships with Scottsboro AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Scottsboro health care community and assist with job placement once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at 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 ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Scottsboro AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to consider 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 commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid department and see what kind of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy college you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Scottsboro AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Scottsboro Physical Therapy Schools

Enroll in the Right Scottsboro Physical Therapist School

Picking the ideal physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you decide on should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are additional critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit each of the colleges to view their facilities and speak with 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 have the ability 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 Scottsboro Alabama.


 

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