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

College Alaska physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near College AK is an important first step to beginning 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 provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally be 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 the ones you are considering to make certain they will supply a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not 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 significant qualifications that need to be evaluated along with 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 what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist?

College Alaska physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including College AK hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes 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 stated, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other College AK health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Offered

College Alaska physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the College AK area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually provided by community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically 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 required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order to become a practicing licensed 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 three years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion 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 taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

College Alaska woman taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's College AK residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you most likely have come to decision regarding some of your initial queries, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the College AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you select the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are looking at 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 enroll in an online college, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call some College AK physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your program selections. 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 submitted against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students left due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the College AK area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the school has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you choose provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing have partnerships with College AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the College medical community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the average student to teacher 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 an opportunity to converse 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 number of students, the physical therapist school they select will need to be within travelling distance of their College AK residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something 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 have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Most DPT schools offer some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid office and see what type of help is available. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist program you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the College AK area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About College Physical Therapy Courses

Choose the Right College Physical Therapy School

Picking the ideal physical therapist program is a necessary initial decision you have to make to begin a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you pick should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that a number of factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to go to different colleges to view their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important 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 be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in College Alaska.


 

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