How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Meadow Lakes Alaska
Obtaining a physical therapist degree near Meadow Lakes AK is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to research those you are thinking about to make certain they will deliver a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists work in diverse locations, including Meadow Lakes AK hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Cardiac arrest
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Meadow Lakes AK medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Offered
There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Meadow Lakes AK area:
- Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to progress to the doctoral level. While 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 the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in some states for licensing also.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Degrees Online
Although not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, 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 a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Meadow Lakes AK residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition may be somewhat less than similar on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Colleges
At this point you probably have come to decision regarding several of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapy degree you intend to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Meadow Lakes AK area and across Alaska, you'll have to look into other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you select the college that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Find out if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier stated, 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 college, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact several Meadow Lakes AK physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your school selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy programs you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Meadow Lakes AK area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the college has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you choose furnishes 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 college. Although licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapy programs you are assessing have relationships with Meadow Lakes AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Meadow Lakes medical community and help with job placement after licensing.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching 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 an opportunity to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Meadow Lakes AK home. Students who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something 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 have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT colleges offer some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are considering have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of 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 assistance might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the physical therapist college you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Meadow Lakes AK area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Meadow Lakes Physical Therapist School
Choosing the ideal physical therapist program is a necessary first decision you must make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are additional critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy college bear in mind that many variables will lead you toward your final decision. You might decide to go to each of the campuses to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the right selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Meadow Lakes Alaska.