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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Nikiski Alaska

Nikiski Alaska physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Nikiski AK is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are considering to make certain they will supply a quality education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is select a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Nikiski Alaska physical therapist assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, including Nikiski AK hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. 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 experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Nikiski AK medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Nikiski Alaska DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short summaries of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Nikiski AK area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare 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 degrees are usually provided by community colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to finish and often incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order to become a practicing licensed 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 overall commitment seven years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component along with the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not just 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 United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Programs

Nikiski Alaska female student taking physical therapist courses onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Nikiski AK home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many cases more economical. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you probably have made a decision concerning a few of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapy degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Nikiski AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll have to explore additional qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Furthermore, you want to be sure that you enroll in the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you need to ask the physical therapist programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 select an online program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact a few Nikiski AK physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your program options. It may also be a good idea 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy colleges you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students dropped out due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, how many 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 program has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or even outstanding. It also verifies that the program has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you choose furnishes both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are interested in have relationships with Nikiski AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Nikiski healthcare community and help with job placement once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are considering 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 ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapy college they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Nikiski AK residence. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial assistance department and find out what type of help is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. A number of physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Nikiski AK area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out More About Nikiski Online Physical Therapist Schools

Choose the Right Nikiski Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the best physical therapist school is an important first decision you must make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you pick should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. But there are additional important questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that many variables will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit different colleges to see their facilities and talk to active 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 following our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Nikiski Alaska.


 

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