How to Enroll In a Physical Therapist School near Huntsville 35801
Receiving a physical therapist degree near Huntsville AL is an essential first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated 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 training and education. 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 important to investigate those you are considering to make sure they will furnish a superior education and meet your state’s licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we discuss 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, including Huntsville AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course 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 necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries.
- Heart attacks.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Burn injuries.
- Hip Replacement.
- Cerebral Palsy.
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Huntsville AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Available
There are three physical therapist degree options available for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is available to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training 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 in the Huntsville AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to be 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 programs are typically provided by community or junior colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the curriculum.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor’s degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and commonly include 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). After earning the bachelor’s degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal element in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in several 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 available in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master’s or even a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Colleges
While not as common as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student’s Huntsville AL residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition can be significantly less than similar on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
By now you most likely have made a decision regarding a few of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Huntsville AL area and across Alabama, you’ll have to research additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you select the school that is right for you. That’s the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier mentioned, 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 school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s important that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the College’s Standing? In addition to accreditation, it’s essential that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT program’s reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call some Huntsville 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 advice about your program options. It might also be a good idea to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the Program’s Job Placement Percentage? There are a two useful statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once 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 Huntsville AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it’s an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also affirms that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It’s essential that the college you select furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. 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 school. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are reviewing have relationships with Huntsville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to receive hands on 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 develop professional relationships in the Huntsville health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want 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 opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Huntsville 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 local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don’t reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT schools offer some type of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might be eligible 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 aid might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy program you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Huntsville AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Earning Your Physical Therapy Degree near Huntsville Alabama?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Huntsville AL area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.
Huntsville is a city primarily in Madison County in the Appalachian region of northern Alabama. It is the county seat of Madison County. The city extends west into neighboring Limestone County and south into Morgan County.
It was founded in 1805 and became an incorporated town in 1811. The city grew across nearby hills north of the Tennessee River, adding textile mills, then munitions factories, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the United States Army Aviation and Missile Command nearby at the Redstone Arsenal. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Huntsville to its "America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations for 2010" list.
The city's population was 180,105 as of the 2010 census, making it Alabama's fourth-largest city. Huntsville is the largest city in the five-county Huntsville-Decatur-Albertville, AL Combined Statistical Area. The Huntsville metropolitan area's population was 417,593 in 2010, making it the second most populous metropolitan area in the state. The Huntsville metro's population reached 441,000 by 2014.
Pick the Ideal Physical Therapist School near Huntsville AL
Deciding on the right physical therapy school is an important first decision you need to make to start a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program, keep in mind that a number of variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit different campuses to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Huntsville AL.
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