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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Kodiak Alaska

Kodiak Alaska physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Kodiak AK is an essential first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are looking at to make certain they will deliver a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important 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?

Kodiak Alaska DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Kodiak AK private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Kodiak AK health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, 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 Degrees Offered

Kodiak Alaska physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Kodiak AK area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often provided by community colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the total commitment seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in some 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 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 existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Online Schools

Kodiak Alaska woman taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as common as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs available, 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 near the college campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the program can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Kodiak AK home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition can be significantly less than comparable on campus options, and costs for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits 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

At this point you probably have made a decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Kodiak AK area and across Alaska, you'll have to look into additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Moreover, you want to be sure that you choose the school that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier stated, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can research a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact some Kodiak AK physical therapist clinics or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your school options. It may also be prudent to contact the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support 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 healthcare community is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you choose furnishes both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist schools you are evaluating have associations with Kodiak AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Kodiak healthcare community and help with job placement once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Kodiak AK home. Those who have chosen 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 keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and find out what type of aid is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist school you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Kodiak AK area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Kodiak Physical Therapy Programs

Enroll in the Right Kodiak Physical Therapist School

Selecting the ideal physical therapy college is an important initial decision you have to make to start a rewarding 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 excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are other relevant questions that you need to ask regarding your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that many variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to go to each of the colleges to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me realize 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 right choice. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Kodiak Alaska.


 

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