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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist College Near Kalifornsky Alaska

Kalifornsky Alaska physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Kalifornsky AK is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the proper training and education. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are considering to ensure they will supply a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is select a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Kalifornsky Alaska physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, including Kalifornsky 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 previously touched on, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Kalifornsky AK medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Kalifornsky Alaska physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for students to enroll in 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 emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Kalifornsky AK area:

  • Associate Degrees educate 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 be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often provided by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy training to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to complete and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in several states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Schools Online

Kalifornsky Alaska female student taking physical therapy courses onlineAlthough not as common as the on campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Kalifornsky AK residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar on-campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning a few of your initial questions, including the type of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Kalifornsky AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll need to research additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college options. Also, you need to be sure that you select the program that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously mentioned, 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 college, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call several Kalifornsky AK physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your program selections. It may also be prudent to check with the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Kalifornsky AK area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the school has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you select provides both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alaska or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Kalifornsky AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Kalifornsky healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Kalifornsky AK residence. Students who have chosen 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 concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and see what type of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy school you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Kalifornsky AK area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Kalifornsky Online Physical Therapy Colleges

Enroll in the Right Kalifornsky Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the best physical therapist college is a necessary first decision you need to make to launch a rewarding career in the healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you pick should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your final decision. You might decide to visit different schools to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me achieve 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 options so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Kalifornsky Alaska.


 

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