How to Choose a Physical Therapist School near Sheffield 35660
Getting a physical therapy degree near Sheffield AL is an important first step to starting a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it’s essential to investigate the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will provide a superior education and comply with your state’s licensing requirements. What you should not do is select a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we’ll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Sheffield AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries.
- Cardiac arrest.
- Sports injuries.
- Burn injuries.
- Hip Replacement.
- Multiple Sclerosis.
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Sheffield AL health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
There are three physical therapy degrees available for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is offered to practice as 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. Below are brief summaries of degrees that are offered in the Sheffield AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically provided by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a component of the curriculum.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to ready candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor’s degrees, they normally require four years to complete and commonly 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). After earning the bachelor’s degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential element along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in some 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 offered in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master’s or even a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Programs Online
While not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online part of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student’s Sheffield AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
At this point you most likely have made a decision concerning some of your initial queries, including 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 spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Sheffield AL area and throughout Alabama, you’ll need to explore other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Moreover, you want to make certain that you choose the school 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 considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s important that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program’s Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it’s essential that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT school’s reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact some Sheffield AL physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your college selections. It may also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the Program’s Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the college’s job placement program, particularly in the Sheffield AL area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it’s an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It’s important that the college you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are assessing have relationships with Sheffield AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Sheffield health care community and help with job placement after licensing.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing 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 ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program also.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Sheffield AL home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something 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 may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that don’t reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT schools provide some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and see what kind of assistance is available. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance may be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy program you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Sheffield AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Earning Your Physical Therapy Degree near Sheffield Alabama?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Sheffield AL area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.
Sheffield is a city in Colbert County, Alabama, United States, and is included in the Shoals metropolitan area. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 9,039. Sheffield is the birthplace of "country-soul pioneer" and songwriter Arthur Alexander, French horn player Willie Ruff, notable attorney, actor, former senator and presidential contender Fred Thompson, Watergate committee U.S. Senator Howell Heflin and U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, whose father was working in nearby Athens when he was born. It sometimes is referred to as "the City of Senators" due to the births of Heflin, McConnell and Thompson within its borders. Col. Harland Sanders worked in the Sheffield depot for Southern Railway in the 1900s. It is also home to the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio where many popular 20th century musicians recorded their work, including Alexander and Ruff. It is the site of historic Helen Keller Hospital, formerly known as Colbert County Hospital and originally constructed in 1921. It was changed to Helen Keller Hospital in 1979, and Keller's birthplace Ivy Green is located less than one mile southwest of the hospital in adjacent Tuscumbia.
Sheffield is located in eastern Colbert County at 34°45′35″N 87°41′41″W / 34.75972°N 87.69472°W / 34.75972; -87.69472 (34.759721, -87.694592), on the south bank of the Tennessee River. Sheffield is bordered to the south by the city of Tuscumbia, to the southeast by Muscle Shoals, and to the north, across the river, by Florence.
Sheffield was one of the Colbert County sites of embarkation by riverboat and barge on the Tennessee River during the forced relocation of Eastern and Southern United States Indian tribes, known as the Trail of Tears. The embarkation site was at what is now the Spring Creek boat launch and park area.
Pick the Best Physical Therapist Training Program near Sheffield AL
Selecting the best physical therapy program is an important first decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy college, bear in mind that a number of factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might want to go to each of the schools to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Sheffield AL.
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