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

Ketchikan Alaska physical therapist working with woman using balance ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Ketchikan AK is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the proper training and education. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are looking at to make sure they will provide a quality education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Ketchikan Alaska physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Ketchikan 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 touched on, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Ketchikan AK medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage 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 getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Ketchikan Alaska physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Ketchikan AK area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take four years to complete and usually include an internship program of at least 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an essential element in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in some 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 USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Schools

Ketchikan Alaska woman taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as common as the on campus 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, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Ketchikan AK residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition might be significantly less than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you most likely have come to decision regarding a few of your preliminary questions, including the type of physical therapist degree you intend to attain, 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 Ketchikan AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll have to research other qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you enroll in the college that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national 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 enroll in an online school, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with several Ketchikan AK physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your college selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Ketchikan AK area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you enroll in provides both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alaska or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have partnerships with Ketchikan AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional connections in the Ketchikan medical community and assist with job placement after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they select will have to be within driving distance of their Ketchikan AK residence. Those who have chosen to attend classes online 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 keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT schools provide some type of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance department and find out what type of assistance is offered. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide 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 Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Ketchikan AK area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Ketchikan Online Physical Therapist Majors

Choose the Right Ketchikan Physical Therapist School

Picking the right physical therapy college is a necessary initial decision you have to make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you select should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are other critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to go to different schools to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me reach 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 field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Ketchikan Alaska.


 

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