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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Kenai Alaska

Kenai Alaska physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballGetting a physical therapist degree near Kenai AK is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the proper training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are thinking about to make certain they will deliver a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered besides location and cost. But before we discuss 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Kenai Alaska DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in varying settings, including Kenai AK private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Kenai AK health specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Kenai Alaska DPT working with man in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by community or junior colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prep students 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 practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to complete and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order 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 finish, making the overall investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not only 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 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 implemented.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Kenai Alaska female student taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so 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 necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Kenai AK residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly less than comparable 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 option the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, such as the type of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Kenai AK area and across Alaska, you'll have to look into additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you enroll in the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously mentioned, 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 school, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with several Kenai AK physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any insight about your school selections. It may also be prudent to contact the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Kenai AK area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the college has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you select provides both exceptional training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are interested in have relationships with Kenai AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to receive hands on experience 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 students and graduates develop professional connections in the Kenai medical community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the average 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 an opportunity to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Kenai AK residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Most DPT schools provide some type of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are considering have a financial assistance office and see what kind of aid is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. Some physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid might be available.

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

Find Out More About Kenai Online Physical Therapy Schools

Choose the Right Kenai Physical Therapist School

Choosing the best physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that many variables will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to go to different colleges to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important 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 ideal selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Kenai Alaska.


 

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