How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist College Near Homer Alaska
Earning a physical therapist degree near Homer AK is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get 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 selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate the ones you are considering to ensure they will provide a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered along with cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists work in varying locations, such as Homer AK hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Homer AK health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under 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 quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is attainable 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 prepping them to progress 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 practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order 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 total commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an important element along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not just 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 United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding 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 Therapy Schools Online
While not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Homer AK home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition may be significantly lower than comparable on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
By now you most likely have made a decision regarding a few of your preliminary questions, such as the type of physical therapist degree you want to attain, 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 throughout Alaska, you'll have to explore other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you pick the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Find out if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier 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 essential that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with a few Homer AK physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your program options. It may also be a good idea 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 Rate? There are a two important statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the school'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 community is good or perhaps excellent. It also affirms that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you choose furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alaska or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required 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 PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are evaluating have relationships with Homer AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Homer healthcare community and assist 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 the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Homer AK residence. Students who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep 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 may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Support Offered? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are considering have a financial assistance office and see what type of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist program you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Homer AK area, make sure 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 carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Homer Physical Therapist School
Selecting the ideal physical therapist school is a necessary first decision you must make to begin a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are other important questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that numerous factors will guide you to your final decision. You may want to visit each of the campuses to view their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me reach 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 appropriate choice. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Homer Alaska.