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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near College Alaska

College Alaska physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near College AK is an essential first step to starting a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the necessary education and training. A PT must also become licensed in all states, 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 evaluate those you are considering to ensure they will furnish a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select a college simply 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 cost and location. But before we cover 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

College Alaska DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, such as College AK hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement 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
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other College AK medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of 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 long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

College Alaska physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is available 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 readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the College AK area:

  • Associate Degrees train 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 degrees are usually offered by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take 4 years to complete and usually 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 must also 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 overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in several 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 available in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Degrees

College Alaska woman taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to 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 college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's College AK home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be significantly less than similar on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

By now you most likely have made a decision regarding some of your initial queries, like the type of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the College AK area and across Alaska, you'll have to explore other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to make certain that you pick the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier stated, 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 school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy 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 ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting 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 also. Contact some College 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 school options. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the College AK area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps excellent. It also affirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you enroll in furnishes both excellent 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 required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have associations with College AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to get practical 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 College health care community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their College AK residence. Individuals 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 consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid office and see what type of help is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist program you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the College AK area, verify 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 need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About College Online Physical Therapy Training

Enroll in the Right College Physical Therapist School

Selecting the right physical therapist college is a necessary first decision you have to make to begin a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are other relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that numerous factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit each of the 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 following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in College Alaska.


 

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