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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Lakes Alaska

Lakes Alaska physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Lakes AK is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will furnish a superior education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is choose a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Lakes Alaska DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse locations, such as Lakes AK private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Lakes AK medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in 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 regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Lakes Alaska physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become 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. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Lakes AK area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually provided by community or junior colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only 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 offered in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Colleges Online

Lakes Alaska woman taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile 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. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Lakes AK home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat less than comparable on campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you most likely have come to decision concerning a few of your preliminary queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Lakes AK area and across Alaska, you'll need to explore other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you choose the school that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are considering have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you enroll in an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Also, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact a few Lakes AK physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your school options. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapist schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school'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 health care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the school has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or employment after graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you enroll in provides both excellent 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 needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are interested in have partnerships with Lakes AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Lakes medical community and help with job placement after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. 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 School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Lakes AK residence. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps 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 commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial support to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial aid department and see what type of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, find out what financial assistance may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapist school you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Lakes AK area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Lakes Physical Therapist Degrees

Enroll in the Best Lakes Physical Therapist School

Selecting the ideal physical therapy program is an important first decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you select should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are other critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school keep in mind that a number of factors will lead you toward your final decision. You might decide to go to each of the schools to view their facilities and talk to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental 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 achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Lakes Alaska.


 

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