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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist School Near Ketchikan Alaska

Ketchikan Alaska physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Ketchikan AK is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are considering to ensure they will supply a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to cost and location. But before we talk about 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Ketchikan Alaska DPT assisting female patient 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 are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Ketchikan AK health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Ketchikan Alaska DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become 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. Following are short explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Ketchikan AK area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often made available by community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the total commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in several states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Schools Online

Ketchikan Alaska woman taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Ketchikan AK residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition may be somewhat less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding several of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Ketchikan AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to make certain that you choose the college that is right for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national 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 choose an online school, it can also obtain 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 from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can research a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with some Ketchikan AK physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your college options. It might also be prudent to contact the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction 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 program has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even exceptional. It also affirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program 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 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 college. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are assessing have associations with Ketchikan AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Ketchikan medical community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Ketchikan AK residence. Students who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT colleges provide some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid office and see what kind of assistance is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may 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, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy school you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Ketchikan AK area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option 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 may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Ketchikan Physical Therapist Majors

Enroll in the Right Ketchikan Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the right physical therapist school is an important first decision you must make to launch a rewarding career in the healthcare field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are other critical questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that many factors will guide you to your final decision. You might want to go to each of the campuses to view their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Ketchikan Alaska.


 

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