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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Badger Alaska

Badger Alaska physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Badger AK is an important first step to starting a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the appropriate training and education. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are looking at to ensure they will furnish a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Badger Alaska physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, including Badger AK hospitals, health clinics, 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 earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems 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 numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Badger AK medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, 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 bear in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Badger Alaska DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is offered 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 progress to the doctoral level. Below are short summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Badger AK area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as 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 equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often made available by community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to finish and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a licensed practicing 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 total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an intregal element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

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 USA. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Schools

Badger Alaska female student taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as common as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Badger AK residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat lower than similar on campus options, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you most likely have made a decision regarding several of your initial queries, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Badger AK area and across Alaska, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you want to be sure that you enroll in the school that is right for you. That's why we have compiled a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier 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 select an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can research a PT college'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 several Badger AK physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your school selections. It might also be prudent to contact the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Badger AK area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you choose provides both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Alaska 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 differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are assessing have associations with Badger AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Badger medical community and help with job placement after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Badger AK home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Most DPT schools offer some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid department and see what type of assistance is available. They at least should help in acquiring 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 program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy school you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Badger AK area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Badger Online Physical Therapist Programs

Enroll in the Right Badger Physical Therapy School

Picking the ideal physical therapy school is an important initial decision you have to make to start a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to go to each of the schools to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental 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 accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Badger Alaska.


 

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