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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy College Near Gateway Alaska

Gateway Alaska physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Gateway AK is an essential first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are looking at to make certain they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we discuss 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?

Gateway Alaska physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Gateway AK hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Gateway AK medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Gateway Alaska physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Gateway AK area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often provided by community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a licensed practicing 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 3 years to complete, making the total commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an important component along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in a number of 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 offered in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Degrees

Gateway Alaska woman taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Gateway AK home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

At this point you most likely have come to decision concerning some of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Gateway AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll have to look into other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to make certain that you choose the school 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 all of the potential schools these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously mentioned, 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 enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call a few Gateway AK physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your program options. It may also be prudent to check with the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate 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 assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Gateway AK area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you choose provides both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Gateway AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Gateway health care community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Gateway AK home. Those who have opted to attend classes online 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 bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT schools offer some type of financial support to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and see what kind of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist program you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Gateway AK area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option 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 due to work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Gateway Online Physical Therapy Programs

Enroll in the Right Gateway Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the right physical therapist school is an important initial decision you need to make to start a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are other important questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you to your final decision. You may want to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Gateway Alaska.


 

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