How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy School Near Fishhook Alaska
Earning a physical therapist degree near Fishhook AK is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the proper training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will deliver a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we talk about 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?
Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Fishhook 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 earlier touched on, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Fishhook AK health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
There are three physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Fishhook 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 earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to complete and often 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 must also 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 overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential component in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer available in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Colleges Online
Although not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature 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 segment of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Fishhook AK residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition may be significantly less than similar on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning several of your initial questions, including the type of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Fishhook AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll need to research additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you want to make certain that you enroll in the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Ask if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously 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 college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Fishhook AK physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your college options. It might also be prudent 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 College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Fishhook AK area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the school has a wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you choose provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are interested in have partnerships with Fishhook AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Fishhook medical community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Fishhook AK home. Individuals who have chosen 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 importance. One thing to consider is that if you decide 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 normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT schools supply some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are examining have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Fishhook AK area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Fishhook Physical Therapy School
Selecting the right physical therapist college is an important initial decision you have to make to begin a rewarding career in the healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to go to each of the schools to see their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Fishhook Alaska.