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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist College Near Badger Alaska

Badger Alaska physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Badger AK is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate the ones you are looking at to make certain they will furnish a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest 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 what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Badger Alaska physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in varying settings, such as Badger AK private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Badger AK health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Badger Alaska DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options available for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate 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 advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Badger AK area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to complete and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an important element along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just 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 attainable in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Badger Alaska female student taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Badger AK home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition might be significantly lower than comparable on campus options, and expenditures 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 right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding several of your initial questions, such as the type of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Badger AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll need to explore additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you need to make certain that you pick the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy 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 agency. Besides ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning 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 as well. Contact some Badger AK physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your program options. It may also be prudent to contact the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Badger AK area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you choose furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements vary 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 exams.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are reviewing have relationships with Badger AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to obtain 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 help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Badger health care community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist 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 Badger AK residence. Those who have opted 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 concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and find out what type of assistance is offered. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Badger AK area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Badger Physical Therapist Training

Choose the Right Badger Physical Therapy School

Picking the best physical therapy program is an important initial decision you have to make to start a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are other important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that many factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to go to each of the schools to view their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the right selection. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Badger Alaska.


 

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