How to Pick a Physical Therapy College near Muscle Shoals 35661
Receiving a physical therapist degree near Muscle Shoals AL is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it’s important to research those you are considering to make certain they will provide a quality education and meet your state’s licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we’ll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, such as Muscle Shoals AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries.
- Heart attacks.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Fire injuries.
- Hip Replacement.
- Multiple Sclerosis.
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Muscle Shoals AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are three physical therapist degrees offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is available to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degree levels that are offered in the Muscle Shoals AL area:
- Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the program.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor’s degrees, they generally take four years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 finish, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.
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. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master’s or even a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Colleges Online
Although not as common as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student’s Muscle Shoals AL home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary questions, including the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Muscle Shoals AL area and throughout Alabama, you’ll need to research additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college options. Also, you need to make sure that you enroll in the college that is ideal for you. That’s why we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Ask if the programs you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College’s Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it’s essential that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT college’s reputation, starting 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 also. Call several Muscle Shoals AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any advice 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 colleges.
What is the School’s Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the school’s job placement program, particularly in the Muscle Shoals 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 outstanding. It also confirms that the college has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the Program 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 requirements 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 therapist school. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are interested in have associations with Muscle Shoals AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Muscle Shoals health care community and help with job placement after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Muscle Shoals AL residence. 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 importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually 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 Help Offered? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are considering have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of help is obtainable. They at least 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 you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist school you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Muscle Shoals AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check 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 due to work, illness or family obligations.
Earning Your Physical Therapy Degree near Muscle Shoals Alabama?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Muscle Shoals AL area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.
Muscle Shoals, Alabama
Muscle Shoals is the largest city in Colbert County, Alabama, United States. It is located along the Tennessee River in the northern part of the state and, as of the 2010 census, the population of Muscle Shoals was 13,146. The estimated population in 2015 was 13,706.
Both the city and the Florence-Muscle Shoals Metropolitan Area (including four cities in Colbert and Lauderdale counties) are commonly called "the Shoals".Northwest Alabama Regional Airport serves the Shoals region, located in the northwest section of the state.
Since the 1960s, the city has been known for music. Local studios and artists developed the "Muscle Shoals Sound", including FAME Studios in the late 1950s and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in 1969. They produced hit records that shaped the national and international history of popular music.
Pick the Right Physical Therapy Training Program near Muscle Shoals AL
Deciding on the ideal physical therapy program is a necessary first decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college, bear in mind that a number of factors will lead you to your final decision. You may want to visit each of the campuses to view their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Muscle Shoals AL.
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