How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Training Program near Decatur Alabama
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Decatur AL is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the proper education and training. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it’s essential to research those you are considering to make sure they will supply a superior education and satisfy your state’s licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered along with 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 what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, such as Decatur 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 previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Decatur AL medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are three physical therapy degrees available for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is available 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. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered in the Decatur AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually provided by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the course of study.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to ready students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor’s degrees, they generally require four years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a practicing licensed 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 finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in some 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 phased out and is no longer offered in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master’s or in some cases a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Programs Online
While not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student’s Decatur AL home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition may be significantly less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Decatur AL area and across Alabama, you’ll need to research additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Also, you want to make certain that you enroll in the program that is ideal for you. That’s why we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national 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 can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s essential that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring 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 Standing? Along with accreditation, it’s important that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT school’s reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call some Decatur AL physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your school options. It might also be prudent to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.
What is the College’s Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college’s job placement program, particularly in the Decatur AL area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It’s important that the college you enroll in furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum 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. While licensing requirements differ 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 tests.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are evaluating have partnerships with Decatur AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Decatur healthcare community and assist with job placement once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at 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 final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Decatur AL home. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry 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 decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even 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 usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don’t reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT colleges offer some type of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist college you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Decatur AL area, confirm that they are available. 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 need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enrolling in a Physical Therapy Program near Decatur Alabama?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Decatur AL area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future campus.
Decatur is a city in Morgan and Limestone counties in the State of Alabama. The city, nicknamed "The River City", is located in Northern Alabama on the banks of Wheeler Lake, along the Tennessee River. It is the largest city and county seat of Morgan County. The population in 2010 was 55,683.
Decatur is also the core city of the two-county large Decatur, Alabama metropolitan area which had an estimated population of 153,374 in 2013. Combined with the Huntsville Metropolitan Area, the two create the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area, of which Decatur is the second-largest city.
Like many southern cities in the early 19th century, Decatur's early success was based upon its location along a river. Railroad routes and boating traffic pushed the city to the front of North Alabama's economic atmosphere. The city rapidly grew into a large economic center within the Tennessee Valley and was a hub for travelers and cargo between Nashville and Mobile, as well as Chattanooga and New Orleans. Throughout the 20th century, the city experienced steady growth, but was eclipsed as the regional economic center by the fast-growing Huntsville during the space race. The city now finds its economy heavily based on manufacturing, mining, cargo transit, chemical, and high-tech companies such as Vulcan Materials,Daikin,Toray,United Launch Alliance.
University Physical Therapy Decatur AL
Selecting the ideal physical therapy program is an important initial decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you decide on should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice also. You originally come to this website because of your interest in getting information on University Physical Therapy. However, as you start your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that numerous factors will guide you toward your final decision. You might want to go to each of the campuses to view their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the right selection. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Decatur AL.
Additional Therapeutic Locations in Alabama
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