How to Enroll In a Physical Therapy Training Program near Tuscaloosa 35401
Getting a physical therapy degree near Tuscaloosa AL is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it’s important to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will deliver a quality education and satisfy your state’s licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated besides 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, including Tuscaloosa 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 earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Heart attacks.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Burn injuries.
- Hip Replacement.
- Multiple Sclerosis.
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Tuscaloosa AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees
There are three physical therapy degree options available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is attainable to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available in the Tuscaloosa AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often made available by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the course of study.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy 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 essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor’s degrees, they typically require four years to finish and often include 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 must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In addition to the bachelor’s degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the total commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in several 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 attainable in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists having a master’s or even a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Programs Online
While not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student’s Tuscaloosa AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat less than comparable on campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
By now you most likely have come to decision regarding a few of your initial questions, like the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Tuscaloosa AL area and across Alabama, you’ll need to look into additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to make certain that you enroll in the college that is ideal for you. That’s why we have put together a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Find out if the programs you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier 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 important that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the School’s Ranking? Along with accreditation, it’s imperative that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT college’s reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact several Tuscaloosa AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college options. 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 School’s Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students left due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, 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 Tuscaloosa AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it’s an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the college has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It’s important that the school you choose furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have partnerships with Tuscaloosa AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Tuscaloosa healthcare community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher 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 an opportunity to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Tuscaloosa AL home. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that don’t reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of assistance is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist college you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Tuscaloosa AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Earning Your Physical Therapy Degree near Tuscaloosa Alabama?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Tuscaloosa AL area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.
Tuscaloosa (/tʌskəˈluːsə/ TUS-kə-LOO-sə) is a city in and the seat of Tuscaloosa County in west central Alabama (in the southeastern United States). Located on the Black Warrior River at the Atlantic Seaboard fall line of the Piedmont, it is the fifth-largest city in Alabama, with an estimated population of 100,287 in 2017.
Incorporated as a town on December 13, 1819, it was named after Tuskaloosa, the chief of a band of Muskogean-speaking people. They battled and were defeated by forces of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1540 in the Battle of Mabila, thought to have been located in what is now central Alabama. Tuscaloosa served as Alabama's capital city from 1826 to 1846.
Tuscaloosa is the regional center of industry, commerce, healthcare, and education for the area of west-central Alabama known as West Alabama. It is the principal city of the Tuscaloosa Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Tuscaloosa, Hale and Pickens counties. In 2013 its estimated metro population was 235,628. Tuscaloosa is also the home of The University of Alabama, Stillman College and Shelton State Community College. While the city attracted international attention when Mercedes-Benz announced it would build its first automotive assembly plant in North America in Tuscaloosa County, the University of Alabama remains the dominant economic and cultural engine in the city.
Enroll in the Right Physical Therapist College near Tuscaloosa AL
Deciding on the best physical therapy college is an important first decision you have to make to launch a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist school, keep in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your final decision. You might decide to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Tuscaloosa AL.
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