How to Select a Physical Therapy School near Fultondale 35068
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Fultondale AL is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee receive 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 ensure they will deliver a quality education and comply with your state’s licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we’ll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist’s Job Description?
Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, such as Fultondale AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes 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 mentioned, physical therapists help patients 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 issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Burn injuries.
- Hip Replacement.
- Cerebral Palsy.
Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Fultondale AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, 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. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees
There are three physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is attainable to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degrees that are available in the Fultondale AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor’s degrees, they generally take 4 years to complete and usually include an internship program of at least 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 complete, making the overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master’s of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master’s or in some cases a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Programs Online
Although not as common as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student’s Fultondale AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition may be somewhat less than similar on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
By now you most likely have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Fultondale AL area and throughout Alabama, you’ll have to look into additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you select the college that is ideal for you. That’s the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national 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 select an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program’s Ranking? Along with accreditation, it’s imperative that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can research a PT school’s reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call some Fultondale AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight 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 filed against the colleges.
What is the Program’s Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction 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 Fultondale AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the college has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It’s imperative that the program you enroll in furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. 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 school. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are evaluating have partnerships with Fultondale AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional connections in the Fultondale healthcare community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching 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 converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program also.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Fultondale AL home. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally 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 decide 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 usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT colleges offer some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial aid office and find out what type of help is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist program you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Fultondale AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Earning Your Physical Therapy Degree near Fultondale Alabama?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Fultondale AL area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.
This area was once known as Fulton Springs. Prior to the building of Interstate 65, US 31 was the main route for travelers northbound from Birmingham towards Nashville, Tennessee. As a result, hotels such as the Keystone Lodge and Buchmann Motor Inn prospered. On the city's southern edge was located one of the few drive-in theatres in the Birmingham area (the "Skyview"). This was torn down when I-65 was built in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Pine Bowl bowling alley is still a long time fixture in the city.Traces of the old routing of US 31 are still noticeable in the city. From just south of the city hall to an old bridge on this city's northern side, most of this old routing is known as Stouts Road or in some cases simply "old US 31."
Fultondale was a relatively stagnant community until the last decade. Growth has occurred in residential areas mainly west of Interstate 65, while retail development has focused along and near the I-65/Walkers Chapel Road exit.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.2 square miles (32 km2), all land. Fultondale is located along one of the many ridgelines that comprise the southern end of the Appalachian Mountain chain. The area has been thoroughly mined for coal and other minerals in the past 100 years. The city is served by two major north/south highways, Interstate 65 and US Highway 31. The new Interstate 22 encroaches on the city's western edge and on June 20, 2016, the interchange with I-65 just south of Fultondale opened. I-22 will provide direct interstate access to Memphis, Tennessee. Upon completion of Interstate 22, Fultondale will become the fourth Alabama city (after Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile) to be directly served by more than one two-digit interstate highway (I-65 & I-22). The only east/west thoroughfare of note is Walkers Chapel Road (west of US 31) and New Castle Road (east of US 31). Rail lines run north/south along the city's eastern edge from Boyles Yard in Tarrant to points north and east. Air travel is available from nearby Birmingham International Airport.
Enroll in the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program near Fultondale AL
Selecting the ideal physical therapist school is an important first decision you have to make to begin a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you choose should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist college, bear in mind that a number of factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to visit different campuses to see their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Fultondale AL.
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