How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Tuscumbia Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Tuscumbia AL is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are thinking about to ensure they will supply a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is choose a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated along with 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 the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Tuscumbia AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals 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 deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Tuscumbia AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Available
There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Tuscumbia AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often made available by community colleges, and require two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an important element in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in several 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. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Schools
While not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined 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 can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Tuscumbia AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat lower than similar on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
By now you probably have made a decision concerning some of your preliminary questions, like the type of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Tuscumbia AL area and across Alabama, you'll need to look into other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Moreover, you want to make certain that you select the college that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Find out if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. 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 school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the School's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you select have outstanding 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 place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call some Tuscumbia AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your school options. It might 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 schools.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Tuscumbia AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you enroll in furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Tuscumbia 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 additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Tuscumbia health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Tuscumbia AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Offered? The majority of DPT colleges provide some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid office and find out what type of assistance is obtainable. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist college you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Tuscumbia AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Tuscumbia Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the best physical therapist program is an important first decision you have to make to start a rewarding career in the healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are other important questions that you need to ask concerning your college 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 visit each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best selection. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Tuscumbia Alabama.