Physical Therapist Schools | Get Your Physical Therapy Degree – Columbiana AL

How to Choose a Physical Therapy Program near Columbiana 35051

Columbiana AL physical therapy school student with volunteerEarning a physical therapist degree near Columbiana AL is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it’s important to research the ones you are looking at to make certain they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state’s licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose 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 must be evaluated in addition to cost and location. But before we cover 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?

Columbiana AL physical therapist helping patient walkPhysical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Columbiana AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries.
  • Heart attacks.
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
  • Burn injuries.
  • Hip Replacement.
  • Sciatica.
  • Multiple Sclerosis.

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Columbiana AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Columbiana AL physical therapist applying acupuncture to patientThere are three physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is attainable to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short summaries of degree levels that are available in the Columbiana AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the program.
  • Bachelor’s Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor’s degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want 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 three years to complete, making the total commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.

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 available in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master’s or in some cases a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Programs Online

woman attending physical therapy school online in Columbiana ALAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student’s Columbiana AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding a few of your initial questions, like the kind of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Columbiana AL area and across Alabama, you’ll have to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you need to make sure that you enroll in the college that is ideal for you. That’s why we have compiled a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you enroll in an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s essential that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring 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 Standing? In addition to accreditation, it’s imperative that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can research a PT program’s reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call several Columbiana AL physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your program options. It might also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the School’s Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapist schools you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction 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 school’s job placement program, particularly in the Columbiana AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the school has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It’s imperative that the college you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a course of study 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 therapy school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are reviewing have associations with Columbiana AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional connections in the Columbiana health care community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Columbiana AL home. Students who have chosen 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 importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don’t reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT colleges provide some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are considering have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist program you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Columbiana AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, 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 may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.

Earning Your Physical Therapy Degree near Columbiana Alabama?

If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Columbiana AL area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.

Columbiana, Alabama

Columbiana, originally called Columbia, was selected as the county seat of Shelby County in 1826 over rivals Calera and Montevallo. After the selection as the county seat, Columbiana celebrated by drilling holes in a large pine tree and packing it with gunpowder. The tree was blown up and the sound could be heard for miles. Later in 1826, the courthouse was moved to an old school building in Columbiana.

An act of the Alabama Legislature officially changed the name of Shelby County’s county seat to Columbiana on January 13, 1832. Columbiana was incorporated on December 5, 1837 with corporate limits one-quarter of a mile in each direction from the public square.

In 1854, the decision was made to build a larger courthouse at the south end of “Silk Stocking Road”, now Main Street. From 1854 to 1908 several additions and changes were made to the courthouse. During the American Civil War, Columbiana was connected to the nearby town of Shelby by the Shelby Iron Company Railroad, which connected the Shelby Iron Works to the Alabama and Tennessee River Railroad. The Iron Works supplied iron to the C.B. Churchill and Company foundry, which moved to Columbiana in 1862 after the fall of Corinth, Mississippi. The Churchill foundry made eight and ten pound shot, eight and ten pound shells, and shells for Blakely rifles.[4] The C.B. Churchill and Company foundry, Shelby Iron Works and the railroad were destroyed by Union forces on March 31, 1865, as part of Wilson's Raid.

Choose the Ideal Physical Therapy School near Columbiana AL

Selecting the right physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you must make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy program, keep in mind that numerous factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might want to go to different colleges to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the right choice. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Columbiana AL.

A Few More Interesting Locations in Alabama

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