How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist School Near Homer Alaska
Getting a physical therapy degree near Homer AK is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the appropriate education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are looking at to ensure they will deliver a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated along with location and cost. 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 what the educational options are.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists work in diverse settings, such as Homer 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 earlier mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Homer AK medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Available
There are three physical therapist degree options available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only 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 preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Homer AK area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to ready students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in a number of 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 offered in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Online Schools
Although not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist programs available, 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 close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Homer AK home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition can be significantly less than comparable on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
At this point you most likely have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Homer AK area and across Alaska, you'll have to look into additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Moreover, you need to be sure that you enroll in the program that is best for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. 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 enroll in an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact several Homer AK physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your school selections. 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 College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Homer AK area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also affirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you select furnishes both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. 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 Internships Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have associations with Homer AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Homer health care community and assist with job placement once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they select will have to be within driving distance of their Homer AK residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose 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 normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Most DPT schools offer some form of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department and find out what kind of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid may be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist school you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Homer 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 credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Homer Physical Therapy School
Deciding on the best physical therapy school is an important initial decision you must make to launch a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are other important questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that numerous factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit different campuses to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program 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 field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Homer Alaska.