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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Scottsboro Alabama

Scottsboro Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Scottsboro AL is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the appropriate training and education. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are considering to make certain they will deliver a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered besides location and cost. But before we discuss 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Scottsboro Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Scottsboro 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 diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Scottsboro AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Scottsboro Alabama physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Scottsboro AL area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While 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 the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to complete and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in several 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 offered in the USA. Some 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 Therapy Schools Online

Scottsboro Alabama woman taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Scottsboro AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you probably have made a decision regarding several of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Scottsboro AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to research other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Also, you want to make sure that you select the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 enroll in an online school, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact several Scottsboro AL physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your school selections. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are considering. One 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, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Scottsboro AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you select provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing have associations with Scottsboro AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Scottsboro healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the average 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 an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Scottsboro AL home. Those who have chosen to attend online classes 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 decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps 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 typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT colleges offer some type of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid office and see what kind of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Scottsboro AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Scottsboro Physical Therapist Courses

Enroll in the Right Scottsboro Physical Therapy School

Choosing the right physical therapy program is a necessary first decision you must make to begin a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that a number of factors will lead you to your final decision. You may decide to go to different colleges to view their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me achieve 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 appropriate selection. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Scottsboro Alabama.


 

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