How to Select a Physical Therapy School near Jacksonville 36265
Getting a physical therapy degree near Jacksonville AL is an essential first step to starting a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it’s important to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will provide a quality education and meet your state’s licensing standards. What you should not do is select a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered besides location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we’ll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, such as Jacksonville AL hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Fire injuries.
- Knee Replacement.
- Cerebral Palsy.
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Jacksonville AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees
There are three physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is offered to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degrees that are available in the Jacksonville AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to become 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 qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually made available by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a portion of the program.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor’s degrees, they normally take four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an important component in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion 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 eliminated and is no longer offered in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master’s or even a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Online Programs
While not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more 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 close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student’s Jacksonville AL home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat lower than similar on-campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary questions, including the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Jacksonville AL area and throughout Alabama, you’ll need to look into other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you select the program that is right for you. That’s the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Find out if the programs you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 choose an online program, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s essential that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the College’s Reputation? Along with accreditation, it’s important that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT school’s reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Jacksonville AL physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your school selections. It may also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.
What is the College’s Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college’s job placement program, particularly in the Jacksonville 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 perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It’s imperative that the school you select furnishes both excellent training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed 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, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are interested in have associations with Jacksonville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Jacksonville medical community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy tech program also.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they select will need to be within travelling distance of their Jacksonville AL home. Those who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often 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 Aid Offered? Most DPT colleges provide some type of financial support to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department and find out what kind of assistance is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist college you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Jacksonville AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Earning Your Physical Therapy Degree near Jacksonville Alabama?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Jacksonville AL area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.
Jacksonville is a city in Calhoun County, Alabama, United States. As of the 2010 census the population was 12,548, which is a 49% increase since 2000. It is included in the Anniston-Oxford Metropolitan Statistical Area. Jacksonville State University is located here, which is a center of commerce and one of the largest employers in the area.
Jacksonville was founded in 1833 on land purchased from Creek Indian Chief "Du-Hoag" Ladiga. First called Drayton, the town was renamed to honor President Andrew Jackson in 1834. There are a couple Civil War monuments in town, including a statue of Major John Pelham in the city cemetery and a statue of a Confederate soldier in the middle of the square. Jacksonville served as the county seat for Calhoun County until the 20th century when it moved to Anniston. Jacksonville State University was founded here in 1883.
An EF3 tornado hit Jacksonville on March 19, 2018, causing extensive damage to the city and Jacksonville State University, almost $42 million in damages. The relatively low number of casualties, specifically just four injuries, was attributed by some to the fact that the university was on spring break at the time. More than 1,000 volunteers assisted in the immediate tornado relief. Caleb Howard, then a senior at Jacksonville State University, said that "[i]t's been amazing to see the university and the community come together." Classes resumed at the university the following month. Although the university's usual site for graduation, Pete Mathews Coliseum, was damaged in the tornado along with over 20 other buildings, the first spring graduation since the tornado proceeded as scheduled on May 4 outside the football stadium. Dr. John Beeler, the university's president, said "It's a joyous event generally because you're celebrating the accomplishments of all your graduates, but it's an even more joyous event because to me it's a celebration of how far we've come in a short time in recovering from these tornadoes."
Pick the Right Physical Therapy School near Jacksonville AL
Deciding on the best physical therapist program is an important first decision you have to make to begin a rewarding career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you choose should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But 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 therapy school, keep in mind that many factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to each of the schools to view their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Jacksonville AL.
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