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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist College Near Homer Alaska

Homer Alaska physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Homer AK is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate those you are looking at to make certain they will provide a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. 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 significant qualifications that must be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we cover 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's Job Description?

Homer Alaska DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, including Homer AK private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Homer AK health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather 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

Homer Alaska DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate 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 emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Homer AK area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to ready students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take 4 years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential component in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer offered in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Schools

Homer Alaska woman taking physical therapist courses onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Homer AK home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Homer AK area and across Alaska, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college options. Also, you want to make sure that you pick the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are looking at 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 program, it can also obtain 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 from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact several Homer AK physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your college options. It might 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 two useful statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students left due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many 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 suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you choose provides both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. In every 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, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are reviewing have relationships with Homer AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Homer healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly 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 typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Homer AK residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern 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 have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? The majority of DPT colleges offer some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are examining have a financial aid department and see what kind of aid is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide 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 College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy school you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Homer AK area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Homer Online Physical Therapy Programs

Enroll in the Right Homer Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the best physical therapy program is a necessary first decision you need to make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that a number of factors will lead you toward your final decision. You might want to go to different schools to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal selection. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Homer Alaska.


 

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