How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Course near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Earning a physical therapy degree near Tuscaloosa AL is an essential first step to launching 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 can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, a large number mandating 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 evaluate those you are thinking about to make sure they will deliver a superior education and meet 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 home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered along with location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we’ll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, such as Tuscaloosa AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Tuscaloosa AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are three physical therapy degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is offered to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degrees that are available in the Tuscaloosa 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 obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the curriculum.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor’s degrees, they typically require 4 years to complete and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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 three years to complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely 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 available in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master’s or even a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Online Programs
While not as common as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student’s Tuscaloosa AL home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition might be significantly lower than similar on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
By now you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding 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 you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Tuscaloosa AL area and across Alabama, you’ll need to look into additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to be sure 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 need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the programs you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. 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 enroll in an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s important that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the College’s Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it’s essential that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT college’s reputation, starting with requesting 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. Get in touch with several Tuscaloosa AL physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your program selections. It may also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.
What is the Program’s Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction 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 school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the school has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It’s imperative that the program you choose provides both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every 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 differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are interested in have relationships with Tuscaloosa AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Tuscaloosa healthcare community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they select will need to be within driving distance of their Tuscaloosa AL home. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT colleges offer some form of financial support to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid office and find out what kind of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy school you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Tuscaloosa AL area, verify 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 need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enrolling in a Physical Therapy Program 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 campus.
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. The city was originally known as Tuskaloosa until the early 20th century.
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, making it a college town.
Bachelor’s Degree For Physical Therapy Tuscaloosa AL
Choosing the right physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you need to make to launch a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice as well. You originally come to this website because of your interest in getting information on Bachelor’s Degree For Physical Therapy. However, as you start your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that a number of variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to different schools to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me accomplish 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 field so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Tuscaloosa AL.
Additional Therapeutic Locations in Alabama
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