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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Bethel Alaska

Bethel Alaska physical therapist working with woman using balance ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Bethel AK is an important first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate those you are considering to make sure they will deliver a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not 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 important qualifications that must be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Bethel Alaska physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Bethel AK private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. 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 individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Bethel AK medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Bethel Alaska physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only 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. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Bethel AK area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify 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 typically a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a practicing licensed 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 three years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in several 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. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Programs

Bethel Alaska woman taking physical therapy courses onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional options, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Bethel AK residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat lower than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

By now you most likely have come to decision concerning some of your preliminary questions, like the type of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Bethel AK area and across Alaska, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you enroll in the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are considering 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 select an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with some Bethel AK physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your college selections. It may also be a good idea 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 Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Bethel AK area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Alaska 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 therapist school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are evaluating have partnerships with Bethel AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Bethel medical community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Bethel AK residence. Students who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT colleges provide some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid office and find out what kind of help is available. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy college you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Bethel AK area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Bethel Physical Therapy Schools

Enroll in the Best Bethel Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the right physical therapist program is a necessary first decision you have to make to begin a rewarding career in the healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are other critical questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that many factors will guide you toward your final decision. You might want to visit each of the campuses to see their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the right selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Bethel Alaska.


 

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