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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist 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 rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, many requiring 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 thinking about to ensure they will supply a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered along with cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Knik Fairview Alaska physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, including Knik Fairview AK private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Knik Fairview AK medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something 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 Therapy Degree Options

Knik Fairview Alaska physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is offered 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 preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Knik Fairview AK area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to complete and usually include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an important component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not only 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 phased out and is no longer offered in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Degrees

Knik Fairview Alaska woman taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure 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 nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Knik Fairview AK home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be somewhat less 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 benefits can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you most likely have come to decision regarding some of your initial queries, including the kind of physical therapy degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Knik Fairview AK area and across Alaska, you'll have to look into additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college choices. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you choose the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are considering. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously mentioned, 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 college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting 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 agencies for their reviews also. Call some Knik Fairview AK physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your college options. It might also be a good idea 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 College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Knik Fairview AK area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the school has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you enroll in furnishes 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) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have relationships with Knik Fairview AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Knik Fairview medical community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. 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 talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Knik Fairview AK residence. Students 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 concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps 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 commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial support to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have a financial aid department and see what kind of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist school you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Knik Fairview AK area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Knik Fairview Online Physical Therapy Majors

Choose the Right Knik Fairview Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the right physical therapist college is a necessary first decision you need to make to launch a gratifying career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy program keep in mind that many variables will guide you toward your final decision. You might decide to visit each of the campuses to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Knik Fairview Alaska.


 

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