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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist School Near Chena Ridge Alaska

Chena Ridge Alaska physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Chena Ridge AK is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the proper education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate the ones you are looking at to ensure they will furnish a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered along with location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Chena Ridge Alaska DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, such as Chena Ridge AK hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Chena Ridge AK health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of 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 prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Chena Ridge Alaska physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is available 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 readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Chena Ridge AK area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often offered by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an important element in addition to the substantial lab and classroom 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 USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Degrees Online

Chena Ridge Alaska woman taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as common as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online part of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Chena Ridge AK home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be significantly lower than similar on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding a few of your initial questions, like the type of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Chena Ridge AK area and across Alaska, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Moreover, you want to be sure that you choose the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have received 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 enroll in an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call some Chena Ridge AK physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your school selections. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Chena Ridge AK area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you choose furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies 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 differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are assessing have partnerships with Chena Ridge AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional connections in the Chena Ridge health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Chena Ridge AK home. Individuals 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 importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose 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 typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? The majority of DPT schools provide some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid department and find out what kind of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist program you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Chena Ridge AK area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Chena Ridge Online Physical Therapy Majors

Choose the Right Chena Ridge Physical Therapist School

Selecting the best physical therapist school is an important first decision you have to make to begin a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that many factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to go to different schools to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me reach 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 field 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 Chena Ridge Alaska.


 

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