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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Fishhook Alaska

Fishhook Alaska physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Fishhook AK is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the necessary education and training. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate the ones you are looking at to ensure they will furnish a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select 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 considered besides cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Fishhook Alaska DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Fishhook AK hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Fishhook AK health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Fishhook Alaska physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees offered for individuals 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 training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Fishhook AK area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to finish and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 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 finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential element in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, 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 eliminated and is no longer offered in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Colleges

Fishhook Alaska woman taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more 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 school campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Fishhook AK home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding several of your preliminary queries, like the kind of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Fishhook AK area and across Alaska, you'll have to research other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you want to make sure that you select the school that is right for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the colleges 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 college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School'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 look into a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact several Fishhook 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 selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Fishhook AK area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you enroll in furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that supports 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 school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are reviewing have relationships with Fishhook AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Fishhook healthcare community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Fishhook AK residence. Individuals who have decided 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. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT schools provide some type of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and see what kind of aid is available. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist program you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Fishhook AK area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Fishhook Online Physical Therapy Schools

Enroll in the Best Fishhook Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the best physical therapist program is a necessary initial decision you have to make to begin a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you pick should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit different schools to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Fishhook Alaska.


 

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