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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Palmer Alaska

Palmer Alaska physical therapist working with woman using balance ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Palmer AK is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the appropriate 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 prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to investigate the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will deliver a quality education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is choose a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to cost and location. But before we cover 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?

Palmer Alaska DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, including Palmer AK private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Palmer AK medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They can also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Palmer Alaska physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the single 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 readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Palmer AK area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to become physical therapy assistants, or can 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 most often provided by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist training to ready students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential first step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want 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 three years to complete, making the total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an important component along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in a number of states for licensing also.

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 offered in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Palmer Alaska woman taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Palmer AK residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition may be somewhat lower than similar on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding some of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Palmer AK area and across Alaska, you'll need to research additional qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you select the program that is best for you. That's the reason we have compiled a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier mentioned, 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 college, it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, check that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing 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 Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting 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 agencies for their reviews also. Call a few Palmer AK physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your school options. It might also be prudent to contact the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to see 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 find out about each of the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Palmer AK area? If a school has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the program has a large network of contacts to help students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you choose furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alaska or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is required 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 PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have relationships with Palmer AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Palmer health care community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapy school they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Palmer AK residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need 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 don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT schools provide some form of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are considering have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of help is available. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial assistance may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy program you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Palmer AK area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Palmer Online Physical Therapist Majors

Choose the Right Palmer Physical Therapy School

Deciding on the best physical therapist program is a necessary initial decision you must make to launch a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you select should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are other relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy program bear in mind that a number of factors will guide you toward your final decision. You might want to go to different schools to see their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate selection. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Palmer Alaska.


 

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