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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Chena Ridge Alaska

Chena Ridge Alaska physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Chena Ridge AK is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will provide a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered besides location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Chena Ridge Alaska physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including 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 the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Chena Ridge AK medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Chena Ridge Alaska physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Chena Ridge AK area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 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 3 years to finish, making the total commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced 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 before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Degrees Online

Chena Ridge Alaska female student taking physical therapy courses onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Chena Ridge AK home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you probably have come to decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Chena Ridge AK area and across Alaska, you'll need to look into additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Moreover, you want to make certain that you choose the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are considering 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 select an online program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check 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 mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with several Chena Ridge AK physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your program options. It may 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 Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Chena Ridge AK area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the school has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you choose furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements 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. Although 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 supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have relationships with Chena Ridge AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Chena Ridge medical community and help with job placement after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Chena Ridge AK residence. Individuals who have decided 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 importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT colleges offer some form of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of aid is offered. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist college you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Chena Ridge AK area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Chena Ridge Physical Therapy Programs

Enroll in the Right Chena Ridge Physical Therapy School

Selecting the right physical therapy school is a necessary first decision you need to make to launch a gratifying career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are additional critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that a number of factors will lead you toward your final decision. You may want to go to different campuses to see their facilities and talk 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 adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Chena Ridge Alaska.


 

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