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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy School Near Knik Fairview Alaska

Knik Fairview Alaska physical therapist working with woman using balance ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Knik Fairview AK is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are looking at to ensure they will deliver a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is choose a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Knik Fairview Alaska DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, such as Knik Fairview AK private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop 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
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Knik Fairview AK health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Knik Fairview Alaska physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Knik Fairview AK area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to complete and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential element along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.

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 available in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Schools

Knik Fairview Alaska female student taking physical therapy training onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are many accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Knik Fairview AK residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat lower than similar on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you probably have come to decision concerning some of your initial queries, including the kind of physical therapist degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Knik Fairview AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll need to look into additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you enroll in the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent 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 essential that the college and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning 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 agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Knik Fairview AK physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your school options. It may 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 College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might 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 Knik Fairview AK area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you choose furnishes both exceptional training and a course of study 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are reviewing have associations with Knik Fairview AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Knik Fairview medical community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Knik Fairview AK residence. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble 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 school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some form of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance office and see what kind of aid is available. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapy program you finally pick 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 night or weekend classes in the Knik Fairview AK area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Knik Fairview Online Physical Therapist Courses

Choose the Best Knik Fairview Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the right physical therapist school is an important first decision you must make to start a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you choose should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are other important questions that you need to ask concerning 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 may want to go to different campuses to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed 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 best choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Knik Fairview Alaska.


 

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