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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near College Alaska

College Alaska physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near College AK is an important first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to research those you are considering to make certain they will provide a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to cost and location. 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?

College Alaska DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, such as College AK private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other College AK medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

College Alaska physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the College AK area:

  • Associate Degrees educate 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 degrees are most often provided 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 curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. Although 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 4 years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a licensed practicing 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 3 years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

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 available in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Degrees

College Alaska woman taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's College AK home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than similar on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, including the type of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the College AK area and across Alaska, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to make certain that you select the college that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier mentioned, 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 college, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can research a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact a few College AK physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college options. It may also be prudent to check with the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapist schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once 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 college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you choose furnishes both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria 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 school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are interested in have relationships with College AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the College medical community and assist with job placement once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they pick will have to be within driving distance of their College 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 local internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT colleges provide some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid office and see what kind of help is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy program you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the College AK area, make certain 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 need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About College Physical Therapy Programs

Enroll in the Right College Physical Therapy School

Choosing the right physical therapist program is an important first decision you need to make to start a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are other relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that many variables will guide you to your final decision. You might decide to visit each of the schools to view their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in College Alaska.


 

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