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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist College Near Lakes Alaska

Lakes Alaska physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Lakes AK is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate education and training. A PT must also be licensed in every state, 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 essential to evaluate the ones you are considering to make certain they will supply a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered besides location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Lakes Alaska DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Lakes AK hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Lakes AK medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Lakes Alaska DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Lakes AK area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as 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 degrees are typically provided by community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a component of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated if you want 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 finish, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential component along with the considerable lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in a number of 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 attainable in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Schools Online

Lakes Alaska female student taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Lakes AK residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition may be significantly less than similar on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you most likely have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary questions, like the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Lakes AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll have to explore other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Also, you want to make certain that you select the college that is right 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 reviewing. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 select an online program, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting 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 also. Contact a few Lakes AK physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your program selections. 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 School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapist programs you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Lakes AK area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the program has a large network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you choose furnishes both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have associations with Lakes AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Lakes healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at 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 ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Lakes AK residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern 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 college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are considering have a financial assistance office and see what type of aid is available. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. Some physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist college you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Lakes AK area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Lakes Online Physical Therapy Degrees

Enroll in the Best Lakes Physical Therapist School

Picking the right physical therapist school is an important initial decision you need to make to launch a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are additional critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that a number of factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might want to visit different schools to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me achieve 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 best choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Lakes Alaska.


 

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