How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Chena Ridge Alaska
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Chena Ridge AK is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are looking at to ensure they will deliver a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated besides cost and location. 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 the options for education.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Chena Ridge AK hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Chena Ridge AK health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
There are three physical therapy degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is attainable 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 prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Chena Ridge AK area:
- Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a portion of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program also must 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 commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Degrees
Although not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Chena Ridge AK home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding a few of your initial queries, including the kind of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Chena Ridge AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll have to look into additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to make sure that you select the college that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Ask if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national 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 essential that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the College's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of 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. Contact several Chena Ridge AK physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your program options. It may also be prudent to contact the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapist programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Chena Ridge AK area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you choose provides both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are reviewing have associations with Chena Ridge AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Chena Ridge healthcare community and assist with job placement once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Chena Ridge AK home. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT schools offer some form of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid department and find out what type of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist program you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Chena Ridge AK area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Chena Ridge Physical Therapy School
Deciding on the right physical therapist college is an important initial decision you have to make to begin a rewarding career in the medical profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that many variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may want to go to different colleges to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Chena Ridge Alaska.