How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Training Program near Muscle Shoals Alabama
Getting a physical therapist degree near Muscle Shoals AL is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it’s important to evaluate the ones you are considering to make certain they will supply a superior education and meet your state’s licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated along with cost and location. But before we cover 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists work in diverse settings, including Muscle Shoals AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes 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 people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Muscle Shoals AL medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is offered to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degree levels that are offered in the Muscle Shoals AL area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by community or junior colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the curriculum.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor’s degrees, they generally require 4 years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required 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). After earning the bachelor’s degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the total commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in a number of 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 eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master’s or even a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Colleges Online
Although not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs available, more so at the graduate level. Due to 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 in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student’s Muscle Shoals AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
At this point you most likely have made a decision concerning a few of your initial queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Muscle Shoals AL area and across Alabama, you’ll have to look into other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you need to make certain that you choose the school that is right for you. That’s why we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s essential that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College’s Reputation? Along with accreditation, it’s imperative that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can research a PT school’s reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact several Muscle Shoals AL physical therapy centers or other medical care 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 a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the School’s Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once 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 Muscle Shoals AL area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it’s an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It’s important that the college you select provides both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In every 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 PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are interested in have partnerships with Muscle Shoals AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Muscle Shoals medical community and help with job placement once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist tech program also.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they select will have to be within driving distance of their Muscle Shoals AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing 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 may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT schools provide some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department and find out what kind of help is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid may be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Muscle Shoals AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Enrolling in a Physical Therapy Program 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 campus.
Muscle Shoals, Alabama
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 – developing the "Muscle Shoals Sound", as local recording studios (including FAME Studios in the late 1950s and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in 1969) produced hit records that shaped the history of popular music.
Due to its strategic location along the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals played a key role in historic land disputes between Native Americans and Anglo-American settlers in the late 18th century and early 19th century.
Schools With Physical Therapy Programs Muscle Shoals AL
Selecting the ideal physical therapist school is an important first decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But 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 Schools With Physical Therapy Programs. However, as you commence your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that many variables will guide you to your final decision. You may want to go to different schools to see their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Muscle Shoals AL.
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