How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Kodiak Alaska
Receiving a physical therapy degree near Kodiak AK is an essential first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to research those you are thinking about to make sure they will provide a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists work in a variety of locations, including Kodiak AK hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Kodiak AK health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing 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 available to prospective students in the Kodiak AK area:
- Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a component of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prep 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 preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a practicing licensed 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 investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely 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 eliminated 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 before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Online Schools
Although not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Kodiak AK residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition may be somewhat less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.
Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
At this point you probably have come to decision regarding a few of your initial queries, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Kodiak AK area and across Alaska, you'll need to explore other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you choose the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Find out if the programs you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college 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, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact several Kodiak AK physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your college selections. It might also be prudent to contact the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Kodiak AK area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also confirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alaska or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapy colleges you are evaluating have associations with Kodiak AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Kodiak health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Kodiak AK home. 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 area internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need 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 Assistance Provided? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial support to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are considering have a financial aid department and see what kind of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapy school you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Kodiak AK area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Kodiak Physical Therapist School
Picking the best physical therapy program is a necessary initial decision you must make to launch a rewarding career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you choose should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are other critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that many variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to different campuses to view their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me reach 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 ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Kodiak Alaska.