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How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Sitka Alaska

Sitka Alaska physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballGetting a physical therapy degree near Sitka AK is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the appropriate education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to research 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 college just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered along with location and cost. 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Sitka Alaska DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Sitka AK hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate 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
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Sitka AK medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Sitka Alaska physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate 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 preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Sitka AK area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by junior or community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally a portion of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order 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 three years to finish, making the overall commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in some 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 offered in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Colleges

Sitka Alaska woman taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Sitka AK home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition might be significantly lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you most likely have come to decision concerning several of your initial questions, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT schools within the Sitka AK area and across Alaska, you'll have to explore additional qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school choices. Also, you need to be sure that you enroll in the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are considering. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Ask if the programs you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Ranking? Along with 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 school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact several Sitka AK physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your school selections. 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 College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may mean that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the support of the school'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 healthcare community is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the college has a wide network of contacts to help students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you enroll in provides both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements fluctuate state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are reviewing have relationships with Sitka AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Sitka medical community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Sitka AK residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly 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 Assistance Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of assistance is obtainable. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the physical therapist school you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Sitka AK area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Sitka Physical Therapy Majors

Enroll in the Best Sitka Physical Therapist School

Choosing the right physical therapy school is an important first decision you have to make to launch a gratifying career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you pick should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that numerous variables will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit different campuses to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the right selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Sitka Alaska.


 

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