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How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Kenai Alaska

Kenai Alaska physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Kenai AK is an important first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the proper training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are considering to make sure they will furnish 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 nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we cover 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Kenai Alaska physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying locations, including Kenai AK hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Kenai 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 take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Available

Kenai Alaska physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Kenai AK area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to become 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 typically provided by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a practicing licensed 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 overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in a number of 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 offered in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Colleges

Kenai Alaska woman taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Kenai AK home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding several of your preliminary questions, including the type 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 numerous PT colleges within the Kenai AK area and across Alaska, you'll have to look into additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you select the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional 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 program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact several Kenai AK physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your school options. It might also be a good idea to check with the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Kenai AK area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you choose provides both superior training and a course of study 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Kenai AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Kenai medical community and help with job placement once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering what the average 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 talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Kenai AK home. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes naturally 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 be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT schools provide some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department and find out what kind of help is available. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist school you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Kenai AK area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Kenai Physical Therapy Schools

Choose the Best Kenai Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the right physical therapist college is an important first decision you need to make to start a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are additional important questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that many factors will guide you to your final decision. You might decide to visit different schools to see their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental 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 Kenai Alaska.


 

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