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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Tuscumbia Alabama

Tuscumbia Alabama physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Tuscumbia AL is an essential first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are considering to ensure they will furnish a quality education and comply with 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 residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about 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?

Tuscumbia Alabama DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, such as Tuscumbia AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped 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 often pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues 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
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Tuscumbia AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about getting 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 prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Offered

Tuscumbia Alabama DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Tuscumbia AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can 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 degrees are most often offered by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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 3 years to finish, making the total commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Schools

Tuscumbia Alabama woman taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs available, more so 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 in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Tuscumbia AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you probably have come to decision concerning a few of your preliminary questions, like the type of physical therapist degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Tuscumbia AL area and across Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you enroll in the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. 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 enroll in an online school, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact some Tuscumbia AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your program options. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Tuscumbia AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms 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 enroll in furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required 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, 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? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are interested in have partnerships with Tuscumbia AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Tuscumbia healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they select will have to be within driving distance of their Tuscumbia AL residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and see what type of assistance is obtainable. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist college you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Tuscumbia AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Tuscumbia Online Physical Therapy Courses

Choose the Right Tuscumbia Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the best physical therapy program is an important first decision you have to make to begin a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you to your final decision. You might want to go to each of the campuses to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Tuscumbia Alabama.


 

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