How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy College near Birmingham Alabama
Getting a physical therapist degree near Birmingham AL is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the proper education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it’s important to research those you are looking at to ensure they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state’s licensing standards. What you should not do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we discuss 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 work in a variety of locations, such as Birmingham AL hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Birmingham AL health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees
There are three physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is available 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 short summaries of degree levels that are available in the Birmingham 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 obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the course of study.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor’s degrees, they typically require 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required 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 3 years to complete, making the total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an important element along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in some states for licensing also.
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 USA. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master’s or in some cases a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Degrees
Although not as common as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student’s Birmingham AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
By now you probably have come to decision regarding several of your initial questions, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Birmingham AL area and across Alabama, you’ll need to explore additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college options. Also, you want to make certain that you choose the college that is ideal for you. That’s why we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are looking at have earned 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 enroll in an online college, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College’s Standing? In addition to accreditation, it’s imperative that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT school’s reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call a few Birmingham AL physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your school options. It might also be prudent 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 Percentage? There are a two useful statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college’s job placement program, particularly in the Birmingham AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It’s important that the college you choose furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have relationships with Birmingham AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Birmingham 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 class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they select will need to be within driving distance of their Birmingham AL home. Those who have opted to attend classes online 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 school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually 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 Support Offered? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial aid office and find out what type of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy college you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Birmingham AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enrolling in a Physical Therapy Program near Birmingham Alabama?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Birmingham AL area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future campus.
Birmingham (/ˈbɜːrmɪŋhæm/ BUR-ming-ham) is a city located in the north central region of the U.S. state of Alabama. With an estimated 2017 population of 210,710, it is the most populous city in Alabama. Birmingham is the seat of Jefferson County, Alabama's most populous and fifth largest county. As of 2017, the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 1,149,807, making it the most populous in Alabama and 49th-most populous in the United States. Birmingham serves as an important regional hub and is associated with the Deep South, Piedmont, and Appalachian regions of the nation.
Birmingham was founded in 1871, during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, through the merger of three pre-existing farm towns, most notably Elyton. The new city was named for Birmingham, England, the UK's second largest city and, at the time, a major industrial city. The Alabama city annexed smaller neighbors and developed as an industrial center, based on mining, the new iron and steel industry, and rail transport. Most of the original settlers who founded Birmingham were of English ancestry. The city was developed as a place where cheap, non-unionized immigrant labor (primarily Irish and Italian), along with African-American labor from rural Alabama, could be employed in the city's steel mills and blast furnaces, giving it a competitive advantage over unionized industrial cities in the Midwest and Northeast.:14
From its founding through the end of the 1960s, Birmingham was a primary industrial center of the southern United States. Its growth from 1881 through 1920 earned it nicknames such as "The Magic City" and "The Pittsburgh of the South". Its major industries were iron and steel production. Major components of the railroad industry, rails and railroad cars, were manufactured in Birmingham. Since the 1860s, the two primary hubs of railroading in the "Deep South" have been Birmingham and Atlanta. The economy diversified in the latter half of the 20th century. Banking, telecommunications, transportation, electrical power transmission, medical care, college education, and insurance have become major economic activities. Birmingham ranks as one of the largest banking centers in the U.S. Also, it is among the most important business centers in the Southeast.
How Long Is Physical Therapy School Birmingham AL
Choosing the right physical therapist program is a necessary initial decision you need to make to begin a rewarding career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you pick should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are other important questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. You originally come to this website because of your interest in getting information on How Long Is Physical Therapy School. However, as you commence your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that many factors will lead you toward your final decision. You may want to go to different colleges to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing 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 appropriate choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Birmingham AL.
Additional Therapeutic Locations in Alabama
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