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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Nikiski Alaska

Nikiski Alaska physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Nikiski AK is an important first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the proper education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are thinking about to make sure they will provide a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be evaluated along with 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Nikiski Alaska physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse 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 patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often 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 try to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, 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 work in close partnerships with other Nikiski AK medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Nikiski Alaska DPT working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degrees available for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Nikiski AK area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are usually made available by community or junior colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is required, 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 eliminated and is no longer available in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Programs Online

Nikiski Alaska female student taking physical therapist training onlineWhile not as common as the on campus options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Nikiski AK home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat lower than similar on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you probably have made a decision concerning several of your initial questions, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Nikiski AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of college options. Also, you want to be sure that you enroll in the college that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are considering have earned accreditation from a national or a regional 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 select an online college, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative 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 recognized accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with several Nikiski AK physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your program options. It may also be prudent to contact the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Nikiski AK area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the college has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you enroll in furnishes both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing criteria 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 college. Although licensing requirements differ 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 supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have partnerships with Nikiski AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Nikiski medical community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they select will need to be within driving distance of their Nikiski AK residence. 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 area internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT schools provide some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and find out what type of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Nikiski AK area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, 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 illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Nikiski Physical Therapist Majors

Enroll in the Best Nikiski Physical Therapy School

Picking the ideal physical therapy program is a necessary initial decision you must make to start a rewarding career in the health care field. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you pick should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are additional critical questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that many factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit each of the colleges to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Nikiski Alaska.


 

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