How to Select the Right Physical Therapist School Near Eagle River Alaska
Earning a physical therapy degree near Eagle River AK is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate the ones you are considering to make certain they will supply a quality education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we discuss 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?
Physical therapists work in varying settings, including Eagle River AK hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Eagle River AK health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Offered
There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is offered 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 progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Eagle River AK area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to ready students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an important component in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely 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 phased out and is no longer available in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Programs Online
While not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online part of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Eagle River AK home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition can be somewhat lower than similar on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
By now you most likely have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Eagle River AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll need to look into additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to make sure that you enroll in the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Find out if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier 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 school, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the College's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact a few Eagle River AK physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your college selections. It might 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 schools.
What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Eagle River AK area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you enroll in provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies 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 therapy college. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have associations with Eagle River AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Eagle River health care community and help with job placement after licensing.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller 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 classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Eagle River AK home. Those who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some type of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and see what kind of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist school you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Eagle River AK area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Eagle River Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the best physical therapist college is an important first decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that numerous variables will lead you toward your final decision. You might want to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college 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 field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Eagle River Alaska.