How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Chena Ridge Alaska
Getting a physical therapist degree near Chena Ridge AK is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate the ones you are considering to make sure they will deliver a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in varying settings, such as Chena Ridge AK private practices, hospitals, 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 earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Chena Ridge AK medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short summaries of degree levels that are offered 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. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a component of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of 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 mandated in order 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 complete, making the total commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, 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 phased out and is no longer attainable in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Online Schools
Although not as common as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, 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 near the school campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Chena Ridge AK home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition may be significantly less than comparable on-campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
By now you probably have made a decision regarding some of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Chena Ridge AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll need to research other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you select the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Ask if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional 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 select an online college, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact some Chena Ridge AK physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your college options. It might also be a good idea 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 School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two useful statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students left due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Chena Ridge AK area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you choose furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Chena Ridge AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Chena Ridge health care community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Chena Ridge AK residence. Those who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide 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 typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT colleges offer some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy school you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must 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, verify 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 illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Chena Ridge Physical Therapist School
Selecting the best physical therapy school is an important initial decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you toward your final decision. You may decide to visit each of the colleges to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Chena Ridge Alaska.