How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Kodiak Alaska
Receiving a physical therapist degree near Kodiak AK is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to research those you are thinking about to ensure they will provide a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered besides cost and location. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Kodiak AK hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Kodiak AK medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Available
There are three physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as 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. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Kodiak AK area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically offered by community or junior colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 3 years to finish, making the total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in a number of 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 licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Programs Online
While not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Kodiak AK residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition can be significantly less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
By now you undoubtedly have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, like the type of physical therapy degree you want 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 Kodiak AK area and across Alaska, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school options. Moreover, you need to be sure that you enroll in the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Find out if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. 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 select an online college, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist 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 recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you obtain an excellent 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 select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call some Kodiak AK physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your program options. It might also be prudent to contact the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of important statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Kodiak AK area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also confirms that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you choose furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are evaluating have associations with Kodiak AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Kodiak healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Kodiak AK residence. Students who have decided 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 consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly 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 Support Provided? The majority of DPT colleges offer some form of financial aid to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance department and see what kind of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid may be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapy program you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Kodiak AK area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Kodiak Physical Therapy School
Picking the right physical therapy school is a necessary initial decision you must make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you pick should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are other important questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that a number of factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit each of the colleges to see their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me realize 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 options so you can make the right selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Kodiak Alaska.