How to Find the Right Physical Therapist College Near Ketchikan Alaska
Earning a physical therapist degree near Ketchikan AK is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the proper education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will furnish a quality education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists work in varying locations, including Ketchikan 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 diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Ketchikan AK health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, 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 readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Ketchikan AK area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an essential component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, 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 licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Online Schools
While not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum can 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 may be significantly less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
At this point you probably have made a decision concerning a few of your initial questions, such as the type of physical therapist degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Ketchikan AK area and across Alaska, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to make certain that you pick the college that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Find out if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national 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 choose an online program, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact several Ketchikan AK physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your college options. It might also be a good idea 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Ketchikan 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 verifies that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are assessing have partnerships with Ketchikan AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional connections in the Ketchikan health care community and help with job placement once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Ketchikan AK home. Students who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT colleges provide some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and find out what type of help is offered. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist college you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Ketchikan AK area, check 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 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.
Enroll in the Right Ketchikan Physical Therapy School
Selecting the ideal physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you have to make to start a gratifying career in the healthcare field. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are other critical questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that many variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to different colleges to see their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me accomplish 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 right choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Ketchikan Alaska.