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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Ketchikan Alaska

Ketchikan Alaska physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Ketchikan AK is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the proper education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are considering to make sure they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered along with location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Ketchikan Alaska DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including Ketchikan AK hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Ketchikan AK medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep 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 stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Ketchikan Alaska DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Ketchikan AK area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community or junior colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a licensed practicing 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 complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential element in addition to the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the United States. A number of licensed 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 Therapist Online Schools

Ketchikan Alaska woman taking physical therapist courses onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, 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 nearby an available internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Ketchikan AK home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be somewhat less than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

By now you probably have come to decision regarding some of your initial queries, including the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Ketchikan AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll need to look into other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you want to be sure that you pick the school that is best for you. That's why we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. 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 earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Ketchikan AK physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your college selections. It may also be prudent to check with the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the school'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 health care community is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are reviewing have partnerships with Ketchikan AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Ketchikan medical community and help with job placement after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Ketchikan AK home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of aid is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapist college you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must 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 option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Ketchikan Online Physical Therapy Degrees

Enroll in the Right Ketchikan Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the best physical therapist college is an important first decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are other critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that numerous variables will guide you to your final decision. You might want to visit each of the colleges to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me realize 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 right selection. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Ketchikan Alaska.


 

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