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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy College Near Eagle River Alaska

Eagle River Alaska physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballObtaining 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 patients who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are considering to ensure they will provide a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Eagle River Alaska DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in varying settings, including Eagle River AK hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Eagle River AK medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Eagle River Alaska DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees available for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is attainable 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 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 become physical therapy assistants, or may 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 or junior colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want 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 3 years to complete, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element along with the substantial classroom and lab 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 replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer attainable 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 existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Schools Online

Eagle River Alaska woman taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so 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 necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online part of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Eagle River AK home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat less than similar on campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning a few of your initial questions, like the type of physical therapy degree you want to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Eagle River AK area and across Alaska, you'll need to look into additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Also, you want to make sure that you choose 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 programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 choose an online program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact some Eagle River AK physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your college selections. It may also be a good idea 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, 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 Eagle River AK area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the school has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you choose furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements 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 therapist college. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have associations with Eagle River AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Eagle River health care community and help with job placement once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Eagle River AK residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something 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 may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some form of financial support to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and see what kind of assistance is available. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist program you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Eagle River AK area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Eagle River Physical Therapist Majors

Enroll in the Best Eagle River Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the ideal physical therapy school is a necessary first decision you must make to start a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you toward your final decision. You may want to visit different schools to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Eagle River Alaska.


 

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