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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Nikiski Alaska

Nikiski Alaska physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Nikiski AK is an essential first step to launching a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the proper training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are looking at to make sure they will provide a quality education and comply with your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated along with 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Nikiski Alaska DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including Nikiski AK private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to address the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent 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
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Nikiski AK health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Nikiski Alaska DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is attainable 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 readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Nikiski AK area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often offered by community or junior colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to complete and often incorporate an internship program of at least 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 3 years to finish, making the overall commitment 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal component along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor 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 licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Schools Online

Nikiski Alaska female student taking physical therapy courses onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the more traditional alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, 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 close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online part of the program 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 instances more economical. Tuition might be significantly lower than similar on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you probably have come to decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Nikiski AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll need to research other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you want to be sure that you enroll in 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 schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. 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 select an online college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Nikiski AK physical therapist centers or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your program selections. It might also be prudent to contact the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist schools you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the college'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 health care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also affirms that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you choose 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 required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs 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 means to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Nikiski health care community and help with job placement once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Nikiski AK residence. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? The majority of DPT colleges provide some type of financial support to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance department and see what type of assistance is available. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist school you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Nikiski AK area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn 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 Online Physical Therapy Majors

Choose the Best Nikiski Physical Therapist School

Choosing the best physical therapist college is an important first decision you must make to start a gratifying career in the health care field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that a number of variables will guide you to your final decision. You may decide to visit different campuses to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed 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 ideal choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Nikiski Alaska.


 

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