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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Bethel Alaska

Bethel Alaska physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Bethel AK is an important first step to starting a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the appropriate education and training. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are looking at to make sure they will supply a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered along with cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Bethel Alaska physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, including Bethel AK hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Bethel AK medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Bethel Alaska physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate 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 progress to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Bethel AK area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or may 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 or junior colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the overall commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an important component in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not just 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 holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Schools

Bethel Alaska female student taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional options, there are some 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 in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Bethel AK home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition may be somewhat lower than similar on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you most likely have come to decision concerning several of your initial queries, like the type of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Bethel AK area and across Alaska, you'll have to research other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Also, you need to make sure that you choose the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are considering have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online college, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact some Bethel AK physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your college selections. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Bethel AK area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the school has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria 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 college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Bethel AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Bethel healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Bethel AK residence. Students who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing 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 might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT schools provide some type of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid department and see what type of help is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy college you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Bethel AK area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Bethel Online Physical Therapist Degrees

Choose the Right Bethel Physical Therapist School

Picking the ideal physical therapist program is a necessary first decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that many factors will lead you to your final decision. You might want to visit different colleges to see their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me realize 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 best choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Bethel Alaska.


 

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