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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Fishhook Alaska

Fishhook Alaska physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Fishhook AK is an important first step to starting a fulfilling 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 work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are considering to make sure they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered besides location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Fishhook Alaska DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Fishhook 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 previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Fishhook AK health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind 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 stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Fishhook Alaska DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate 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 target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Fishhook AK area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be 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 GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by community or junior colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 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 complete, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer available in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Programs Online

Fishhook Alaska female student taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature 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 in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Fishhook AK home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might 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, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

By now you probably have made a decision concerning some of your initial questions, such as the type of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Fishhook AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll need to look into other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you choose the program that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are reviewing have received 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 choose an online college, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call several Fishhook AK physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any insight 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 filed against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left because of displeasure 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 Fishhook AK area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the program has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you enroll in furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are assessing have partnerships with Fishhook AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Fishhook health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Fishhook AK residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally 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 Support Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some form of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid department and find out what kind of assistance is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Fishhook AK area, make sure that they are available. 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 carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Fishhook Physical Therapy Training

Enroll in the Right Fishhook Physical Therapist School

Choosing the ideal physical therapy program is a necessary initial decision you have to make to launch a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that a number of factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit different colleges to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Fishhook Alaska.


 

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