How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Scottsboro Alabama
Getting a physical therapist degree near Scottsboro AL is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the necessary training and education. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are looking at to make certain they will furnish a quality education and satisfy 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 the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, including Scottsboro AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Scottsboro AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Scottsboro AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a practicing licensed 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 three years to finish, making the total commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an important element in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in some 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 eliminated and is no longer offered in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Schools Online
Although not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of 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 nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online part of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Scottsboro AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition may be somewhat less than similar on campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
By now you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning several of your initial queries, like the type of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Scottsboro AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to research other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you select the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously 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 college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential 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 agency. Along with guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact several Scottsboro AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your program options. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the college'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 health care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you select furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are interested in have relationships with Scottsboro AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to obtain 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 can assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Scottsboro healthcare community and help with job placement once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Scottsboro AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally 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 consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance office and see what type of help is available. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Scottsboro AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Scottsboro Physical Therapy School
Picking the right physical therapy program is a necessary first decision you have to make to begin a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your final decision. You may want to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the right choice. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Scottsboro Alabama.