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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Eagle River Alaska

Eagle River Alaska physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Eagle River AK is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate those you are considering to make certain they will supply a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered along with location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Eagle River Alaska physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Eagle River AK hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Eagle River AK health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, 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

Eagle River Alaska DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Eagle River AK area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare students to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an important element in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in some 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 United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Colleges

Eagle River Alaska female student taking physical therapy courses onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs available, more so 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 segment of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Eagle River AK residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition can be significantly lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning a few of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, 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 explore additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school options. Also, you want to make sure that you enroll in the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. 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 select an online school, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy 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 getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call 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 give you any recommendations about your school options. It may also be prudent to contact the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many 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 school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you choose provides both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are interested in have relationships with Eagle River AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Eagle River health care community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Eagle River AK residence. Students who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Most DPT colleges provide some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid office and see what kind of assistance is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist college you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Eagle River AK area, verify that they are available. 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 enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Eagle River Physical Therapist Schools

Enroll in the Right Eagle River Physical Therapy School

Picking the best physical therapist program is an important first decision you need to make to start a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are other important questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that numerous variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to each of the colleges to view their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me reach 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 options so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Eagle River Alaska.


 

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