How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Juneau Alaska
Earning a physical therapist degree near Juneau AK is an essential first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the necessary education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate those you are considering to make sure they will deliver a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated along with cost and location. 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 is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, such as Juneau AK private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Juneau AK health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Available
There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is available 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 readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Juneau 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 equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the total commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer available in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Online Colleges
While not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online portion of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Juneau AK home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition may be significantly lower than comparable on-campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary queries, including the type of physical therapist degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Juneau AK area and across Alaska, you'll need to look into additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Moreover, you want to make sure that you select the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited? Ask if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. 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 college, it can also earn 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 simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can research a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting 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 also. Contact a few Juneau AK physical therapy clinics 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 a good idea to contact the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.
What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Juneau AK area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the program has a large network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you choose provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are reviewing have associations with Juneau AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional connections in the Juneau medical community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Juneau AK home. Those who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble 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 might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT colleges provide some type of financial support to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department and find out what type of assistance is obtainable. They at least 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 offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapy program you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Juneau AK area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Juneau Physical Therapy School
Selecting the best physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you must make to start a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that many factors will lead you toward your final decision. You may decide to visit different schools to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Juneau Alaska.