How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist School near Florence Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Florence AL is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it’s important to research the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will deliver a quality education and comply with your state’s licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we cover 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, such as Florence AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Florence AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear 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 Offered
There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is attainable to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degree levels that are offered in the Florence AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to become 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 qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often offered by community or junior colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the course of study.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to ready 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 first step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor’s degrees, they generally take four years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a licensed practicing 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 intregal component in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not only 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 phased out and is no longer offered in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master’s or even a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Online Schools
While not as common as the on-campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature 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. However, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student’s Florence AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition may be somewhat less than comparable on campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
At this point you probably have made a decision regarding some of your initial questions, like the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Florence AL area and throughout Alabama, you’ll need to research other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you enroll in the school that is ideal for you. That’s the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously 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 choose an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s important that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the School’s Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it’s important that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can research 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 as well. Call some Florence AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college selections. It may also be prudent to contact 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 Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college’s job placement program, particularly in the Florence AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It’s imperative that the program you choose provides both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have partnerships with Florence AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Florence healthcare community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for 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 ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Florence AL residence. Individuals 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. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don’t reside within their districts.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are looking at have a financial aid office and see what type of aid is available. They at least should help in securing 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 eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid may be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist program you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Florence AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Enrolling in a Physical Therapy Program near Florence Alabama?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Florence AL area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future campus.
Florence is the largest and principal city of the Florence-Muscle Shoals Metropolitan Statistical Area (which includes Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia metropolitan areas in Colbert and Lauderdale counties). Florence is considered northwestern Alabama's primary economic hub.
Annual tourism events include the W. C. Handy Music Festival in the summer and the Renaissance Faire in the fall. Landmarks in Florence include the Rosenbaum House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home located in Alabama.
Florence and Lauderdale County have one hospital, Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital. ECM is a 358 bed facility owned by RCCH HealthCare Partners in Brentwood, Tennessee. In 2010 RCCH HealthCare Partners announced that they would build a new hospital in Florence. The hospital is due to be completed in December 2018.
PhD In Physical Therapy Florence AL
Choosing the ideal physical therapy program is a necessary first decision you have to make to start a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are other important questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice as well. You originally come to this website because of your interest in getting information on PhD In Physical Therapy. However, as you start your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that a number of variables will guide you toward your final decision. You may decide to go to different campuses to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options 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 Florence AL.
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