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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Palmer Alaska

Palmer Alaska physical therapist working with female patient holding exercise ballObtaining a physical therapist degree near Palmer AK is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the proper training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate those you are thinking about to ensure they will supply a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered in addition to cost and location. 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 what the educational options are.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Palmer Alaska DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in varying locations, such as Palmer AK private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Palmer AK medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

Palmer Alaska DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Palmer AK area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often provided by community or junior colleges, and require two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they normally take 4 years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order 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 three years to complete, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.

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

Physical Therapist Online Colleges

Palmer Alaska female student taking physical therapy classes onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Palmer AK home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat lower than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you want to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT colleges within the Palmer AK area and across Alaska, you'll need to look into additional qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to make certain that you choose the program that is right for you. That's why we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national 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 choose an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT program'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 several Palmer AK physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your school selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy schools you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students dropped out because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, 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 Palmer AK area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you select provides both superior 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing have partnerships with Palmer AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Palmer medical community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they select will need to be within travelling distance of their Palmer AK home. Individuals who have chosen 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 importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT schools offer some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are looking at have a financial aid office and find out what type of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy college you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Palmer 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 need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Palmer Physical Therapy Degrees

Enroll in the Best Palmer Physical Therapist School

Picking the right physical therapist program is a necessary initial decision you have to make to launch a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that numerous variables will lead you to your final decision. You might want to go to different schools to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me achieve 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 choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Palmer Alaska.


 

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