How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist School Near Kodiak Alaska
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Kodiak AK is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. 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 every state, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are thinking about to ensure they will supply a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated along with cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Kodiak AK private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fire injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Kodiak AK health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering 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 long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees
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 available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Kodiak AK area:
- Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can 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 most often made available by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to complete and often incorporate 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 3 years to finish, making the total commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in several 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 eliminated and is no longer attainable 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 mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Degrees Online
Although not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the course of study 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 can be somewhat less than similar on-campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges
At this point you most likely have come to decision regarding a few of your initial questions, including the kind of physical therapy degree you want to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Kodiak AK area and across Alaska, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school options. Moreover, you need to make sure that you pick the school that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. 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 obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT school'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 organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with several Kodiak AK physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your school options. It might also be prudent 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Kodiak AK area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps excellent. It also confirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you select provides both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are assessing have associations with Kodiak AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Kodiak healthcare community and assist with job placement once licensed.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Kodiak AK home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something 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 have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid office and find out what kind of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Kodiak AK area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Kodiak Physical Therapist School
Picking the best physical therapist college is an important initial decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you decide on should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your final decision. You may decide to go to each of the colleges to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Kodiak Alaska.