How to Select the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Homer Alaska
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Homer AK is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the proper education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are looking at to make certain they will furnish a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered along with cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists work in diverse locations, including Homer AK private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers 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 individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Homer AK health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, 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 Therapist Degrees
There are three physical therapist degrees offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Homer AK area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by community or junior colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to progress 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. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in several 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 available in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Programs Online
While not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Homer AK residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition might be significantly less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
At this point you probably have made a decision concerning some of your initial questions, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Homer AK area and across Alaska, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you enroll in the college that is best for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Ask if the programs you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call a few Homer AK physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your college options. It may also be prudent to contact 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 Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Homer AK area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the college has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you choose provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have associations with Homer AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Homer healthcare community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several 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 therapy school they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Homer AK home. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of assistance is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist program you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Homer AK area, check 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 carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Homer Physical Therapist School
Selecting the right physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that many factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit different campuses to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Homer Alaska.