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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Knik Fairview Alaska

Knik Fairview Alaska physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Knik Fairview AK is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people 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 need to get the proper education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate the ones you are considering to make certain they will provide a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to cost and location. 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Knik Fairview Alaska DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Knik Fairview AK hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

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

Physical Therapist Degrees

Knik Fairview Alaska DPT working with man in pool

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

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by junior or community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order to become a licensed practicing 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 finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an important element in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in a number of 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 eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding 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 Degrees Online

Knik Fairview Alaska woman taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online part of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Knik Fairview AK home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

By now you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding several 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 you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT colleges within the Knik Fairview AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll need to explore other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you want to be sure that you pick the school that is right for you. That's why we have compiled a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. 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 enroll in an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact a few Knik Fairview AK physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your program options. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Knik Fairview AK area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you choose provides both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements 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 school. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing have associations with Knik Fairview AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Knik Fairview healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Knik Fairview AK residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally 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 choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT schools provide some form of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and see what kind of assistance is obtainable. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapist college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Knik Fairview AK area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Knik Fairview Online Physical Therapy Majors

Enroll in the Right Knik Fairview Physical Therapist School

Choosing the ideal physical therapy school is an important initial decision you have to make to start a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that numerous factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit different colleges to see their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional 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 achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Knik Fairview Alaska.


 

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