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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Nikiski Alaska

Nikiski Alaska physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Nikiski AK is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the necessary training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research the ones you are looking at to make sure they will supply a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be considered besides cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Nikiski Alaska DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Nikiski AK hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Nikiski AK medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather 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 Degrees

Nikiski Alaska physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for students to pursue 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 target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Nikiski AK area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want 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 complete, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an important element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer attainable in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Programs Online

Nikiski Alaska female student taking physical therapist courses onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Nikiski AK home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on campus options, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding some of your initial queries, including the kind of physical therapy degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Nikiski AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll need to research additional qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school options. Also, you want to make certain that you choose the program that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are looking at have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier 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 choose an online school, 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 an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact a few Nikiski AK physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your school selections. It might also be prudent to check with the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

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 schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Nikiski AK area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even outstanding. It also confirms that the school has a broad network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs after graduation.

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

Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have associations with Nikiski AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Nikiski health care community and help with job placement after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Nikiski AK home. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? The majority of DPT schools provide some type of financial support to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department and find out what type of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist school you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Nikiski AK area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Nikiski Physical Therapist Schools

Enroll in the Right Nikiski Physical Therapy School

Selecting the right physical therapy program is a necessary first decision you need to make to launch a fulfilling career in the health care field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you enroll in should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are other important questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist college bear in mind that numerous factors will guide you to your final decision. You might want to go to each of the campuses to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me reach my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Nikiski Alaska.


 

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