How to Select the Right Physical Therapy College near Guntersville Alabama
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Guntersville AL is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the appropriate education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it’s necessary to research the ones you are looking at to make sure they will deliver a superior education and satisfy your state’s licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered besides location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we’ll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Guntersville 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 touched on, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Guntersville AL medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees
There are three physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is attainable 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 advance to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degrees that are offered in the Guntersville AL area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually made available by community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the course of study.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor’s degrees, they normally require four years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required if you want 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 overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, 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 USA. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master’s or in some cases a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Programs Online
Although not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student’s Guntersville AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar on campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
By now you most likely have made a decision regarding some of your initial queries, like the type of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Guntersville AL area and across Alabama, you’ll have to research additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you choose the program that is right for you. That’s the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential 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 national or a regional organization. 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 enroll in an online college, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the School’s Ranking? Along with accreditation, it’s imperative that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT school’s reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Call several Guntersville AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your college selections. It might also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.
What is the College’s Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the school’s job placement program, particularly in the Guntersville AL area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even exceptional. It also confirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It’s important that the college you choose furnishes both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Guntersville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Guntersville healthcare community and help with job placement once licensed.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing 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 final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy tech program also.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Guntersville AL home. Those who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose 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 commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don’t reside within their districts.
Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT colleges offer some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and find out what type of assistance is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Guntersville AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enrolling in a Physical Therapy Program near Guntersville Alabama?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Guntersville AL area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future campus.
Guntersville (previously known as Gunter's Ferry and later Gunter's Landing) is a city and the county seat of Marshall County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census, the population of the city was 8,197. Guntersville is located in a HUBZone as identified by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 42.4 square miles (109.9 km2), of which 25.4 square miles (65.8 km2) is land and 17.0 square miles (44.1 km2), or 40.14%, is water.
Guntersville is located at the southernmost point of the Tennessee River on Lake Guntersville, formed by the Guntersville Dam (built by the Tennessee Valley Authority). Geologically, the lake occupies a southern extension of Sequatchie Valley, which continues south as Browns Valley.
Physical Therapist School Years Guntersville AL
Selecting the ideal physical therapist college is an important initial decision you have to make to launch a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional important questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice also. You originally come to this website because of your interest in getting information on Physical Therapist School Years. However, as you commence your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that a number of variables will lead you to your final decision. You might decide to go to different schools to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me reach 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 field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Guntersville AL.
Additional Therapeutic Locations in Alabama
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