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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Degree Program Near Ketchikan Alaska

Ketchikan Alaska physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Ketchikan AK is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, 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 essential to investigate the ones you are looking at to ensure they will provide a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Ketchikan Alaska DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, such as Ketchikan AK private practices, hospitals, 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 previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

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

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Ketchikan AK medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Ketchikan Alaska DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate 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 Ketchikan AK area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually provided by junior or community colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program must also 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 finish, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential component in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely 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 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 current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Programs Online

Ketchikan Alaska female student taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Ketchikan AK home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat lower than comparable on campus options, and costs 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 best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges

By now you probably have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you would like to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Ketchikan AK area and across Alaska, you'll have to research additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school options. Moreover, you need to make certain that you choose the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are looking at 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 enroll in an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. 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 may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call a few Ketchikan AK physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your school selections. It might also be prudent to check with the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Ketchikan AK area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you select provides both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements fluctuate 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 Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are assessing have relationships with Ketchikan AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Ketchikan healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Ketchikan AK residence. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind 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 typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT colleges offer some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid department and find out what kind of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Ketchikan AK area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Ketchikan Physical Therapy Programs

Choose the Right Ketchikan Physical Therapist School

Choosing the right physical therapy college is an important initial decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your final decision. You might want to visit each of the schools to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Ketchikan Alaska.


 

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