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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Meadow Lakes Alaska

Meadow Lakes Alaska physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Meadow Lakes AK is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will provide a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is choose a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered besides location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Meadow Lakes Alaska physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, such as Meadow Lakes AK private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Meadow Lakes AK health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Meadow Lakes Alaska DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Meadow Lakes AK area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually provided by community or junior colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally 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 3 years to complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal element along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely 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 available in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Colleges Online

Meadow Lakes Alaska female student taking physical therapy training onlineWhile not as common as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated 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 part of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Meadow Lakes AK residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

By now you probably have made a decision concerning a few of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Meadow Lakes AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll have to look into additional qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you select the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask all of the potential schools these questions before making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are looking at have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously 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 may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can research a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call some Meadow Lakes AK physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your program selections. It may also be prudent to check with the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Meadow Lakes AK area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also affirms that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential 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 every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have partnerships with Meadow Lakes AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Meadow Lakes medical community and help with job placement after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist school they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Meadow Lakes AK residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose 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 often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT colleges provide some type of financial support to their potential students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance office and see what type of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist college you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Meadow Lakes AK area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Meadow Lakes Physical Therapist Schools

Choose the Best Meadow Lakes Physical Therapist School

Picking the right physical therapist program is a necessary initial decision you must make to launch a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you select should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that numerous variables will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may decide to visit different campuses to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the right choice. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Meadow Lakes Alaska.


 

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