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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Bethel Alaska

Bethel Alaska physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Bethel AK is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the proper training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are considering to ensure they will deliver a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we discuss 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 is a Physical Therapist?

Bethel Alaska DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, such as Bethel AK hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Bethel AK medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Bethel Alaska physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Bethel AK area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential element along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.

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 holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Schools Online

Bethel Alaska woman taking physical therapist courses onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of 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 college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Bethel AK residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition can be significantly less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary questions, like the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Bethel AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll need to look into other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to make certain that you pick the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier mentioned, 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 program, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact a few Bethel AK physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your program selections. It may also be prudent to check with the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy colleges you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After 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 school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the school has a large network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are reviewing have partnerships with Bethel AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Bethel healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching 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 determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Bethel AK residence. Those 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. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial support to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid office and find out what kind of assistance is offered. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapist college you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Bethel AK area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Bethel Online Physical Therapist Colleges

Enroll in the Best Bethel Physical Therapy School

Selecting the right physical therapy college is an important initial decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that many factors will lead you toward your final decision. You might want to go to different campuses to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me realize 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 proper education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Bethel Alaska.


 

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