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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Fairbanks Alaska

Fairbanks Alaska physical therapist working with woman using balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Fairbanks AK is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are thinking about to ensure they will provide a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated along with cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Fairbanks Alaska DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Fairbanks AK private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Fairbanks AK health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under 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 rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Fairbanks Alaska DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the one 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 readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Fairbanks AK area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually made available by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally take 4 years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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 three years to complete, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in some 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 attainable in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

Fairbanks Alaska female student taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Fairbanks AK residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition might be significantly lower than comparable 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 benefits may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Fairbanks AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll have to look into other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Also, you need to make sure that you choose the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier stated, 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 program, it can 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 simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Fairbanks AK physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your school selections. It might also be prudent 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 Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left 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 college's job placement program, particularly in the Fairbanks AK area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are assessing have relationships with Fairbanks AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Fairbanks health care community and assist with job placement once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Fairbanks AK residence. Those who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern 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 college that is out of state or perhaps 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 commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are considering have a financial aid office and see what kind of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide 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 College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Fairbanks AK area, make sure 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, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Fairbanks Physical Therapy Degrees

Enroll in the Best Fairbanks Physical Therapist School

Selecting the best physical therapy college is an important first decision you must make to start a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your final decision. You might decide to visit different campuses to view their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me accomplish 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 proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Fairbanks Alaska.


 

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