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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Scottsboro Alabama

Scottsboro Alabama physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Scottsboro AL is an essential first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate those you are looking at to make certain they will supply a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Scottsboro Alabama DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, including Scottsboro AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Scottsboro AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into 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 extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Scottsboro Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degree levels 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 a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually made available by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to complete and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order 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 3 years to complete, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, 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 eliminated and is no longer attainable in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Scottsboro Alabama woman taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Scottsboro AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition can be somewhat less than comparable on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

By now you probably have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, such as the type of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Scottsboro AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to look into additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you select the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have received 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 college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Call a few Scottsboro AL physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your college options. It may also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance 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 healthcare community is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you select furnishes both excellent training and a course of study 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. 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 and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are interested in have associations with Scottsboro AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Scottsboro medical community and assist with job placement once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Scottsboro AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry 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 decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial aid office and see what kind of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might qualify 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, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy college you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Scottsboro AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Scottsboro Physical Therapy Degrees

Choose the Right Scottsboro Physical Therapy School

Choosing the ideal physical therapist school is a necessary first decision you need to make to begin a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you decide on should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are other relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that many factors will guide you toward your final decision. You may decide to visit different campuses to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Scottsboro Alabama.


 

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