How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Meadow Lakes Alaska
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Meadow Lakes AK is an important first step to starting a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the necessary training and education. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are considering to make certain they will provide a superior education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in varying settings, including Meadow Lakes AK hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help patients that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to stop any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Heart attacks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Meadow Lakes AK medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Available
There are three physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Meadow 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 a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually provided by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and commonly 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 finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in a number of 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 phased out and is no longer offered in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Online Programs
While not as common as the more traditional options, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Meadow Lakes AK residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition may be significantly less than comparable on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding several of your initial questions, such as the type of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Meadow Lakes AK area and across Alaska, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you select the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited? Ask if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for 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 some Meadow Lakes AK physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your school options. 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 submitted against the schools.
What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you should know about all of the physical therapy schools you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Meadow 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 excellent. It also confirms that the college has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs upon graduation.
Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you select furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have partnerships with Meadow Lakes AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Meadow Lakes health care community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Meadow Lakes AK home. 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 concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Aid Offered? The majority of DPT colleges offer some form of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial aid department and see what type of assistance is obtainable. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid may be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy program you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Meadow Lakes AK area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Meadow Lakes Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the best physical therapy school is an important initial decision you need to make to launch a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are other critical questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that many variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You may want to visit different colleges to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Meadow Lakes Alaska.