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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Knik Fairview Alaska

Knik Fairview Alaska physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Knik Fairview AK is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical 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 acquire the proper education and training. A PT must also be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are considering to make certain they will deliver a superior education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered besides location and cost. But before we cover 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Knik Fairview Alaska DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Knik Fairview 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 the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Knik Fairview AK medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Knik Fairview Alaska physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Knik Fairview AK area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often offered by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to ready students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a licensed practicing 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 finish, making the overall commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, 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 USA. Some practicing 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 Therapy Online Degrees

Knik Fairview Alaska female student taking physical therapist courses onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Knik Fairview AK home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition might be significantly less than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

By now you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding some of your initial questions, like the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Knik Fairview AK area and across Alaska, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Also, you want to make certain that you enroll in the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier stated, 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 may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact some Knik Fairview AK physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any advice 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 schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two relevant statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Knik Fairview AK area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the school has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you select provides both excellent training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alaska or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are reviewing have relationships with Knik Fairview AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Knik Fairview healthcare community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want 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 students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they select will have to be within driving distance of their Knik Fairview AK home. Students who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT colleges provide some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and see what kind of help is obtainable. They at least 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 college because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist college you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Knik Fairview AK area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Knik Fairview Physical Therapist Colleges

Enroll in the Right Knik Fairview Physical Therapy School

Selecting the ideal physical therapist program is a necessary initial decision you have to make to start a rewarding career in the healthcare field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are additional critical questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your final decision. You may want to go to different schools to see their facilities and speak to current 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 selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Knik Fairview Alaska.


 

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