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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy College Near Sitka Alaska

Sitka Alaska physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Sitka AK is an important first step to launching a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been incapacitated due to illness or injury gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the necessary training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to research those you are looking at to make certain they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we cover 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?

Sitka Alaska DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Sitka 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 diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop 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
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Sitka AK health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Sitka Alaska physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Sitka AK area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often offered by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. 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 education to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important initial step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to finish and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 3 years to complete, making the overall commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an intregal element along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in several 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 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 before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Colleges

Sitka Alaska woman taking physical therapist courses onlineWhile not as common as the on-campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Sitka AK residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition might be significantly lower than similar on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

At this point you probably have come to decision regarding several of your initial questions, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you want to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Sitka AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll have to look into additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school options. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you pick the school that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask all of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. 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 school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT school'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 as well. Get in touch with several Sitka AK physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your college options. It might also be a good idea to check with the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two important statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left due to displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Sitka AK area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care field is good or even exceptional. It also affirms that the college has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you choose provides both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have relationships with Sitka AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional connections in the Sitka health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are researching what the average 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 speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Sitka AK home. Students who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry 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 even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT schools offer some type of financial assistance to their potential students. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance department and see what kind of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy college you ultimately select can offer 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 Sitka AK area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify 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 as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Sitka Online Physical Therapy Degrees

Choose the Right Sitka Physical Therapist School

Selecting the ideal physical therapy college is an important initial decision you need to make to start a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you pick should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are other critical questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your final decision. You may want to go to each of the colleges to see their facilities and talk to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Sitka Alaska.


 

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