How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy School Near Steele Creek Alaska
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Steele Creek AK is a critical first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been disabled due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must obtain the appropriate training and education. A PT must also be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are considering to make sure they will furnish a quality education and comply with your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must 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 is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, including Steele Creek AK hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Cerebral Palsy
Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Steele Creek AK health 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 considering going into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Available
There are three physical therapy degrees offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Steele Creek AK area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by community colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to complete and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are required if you want 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 complete, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component in addition to 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 replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapy Programs Online
While not as common as the on-campus options, there are many 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 nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Steele Creek AK residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat lower than similar on campus alternatives, 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.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
At this point you most likely have made a decision concerning some of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are numerous PT colleges within the Steele Creek AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll need to explore other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Furthermore, you want to make certain that you choose the college that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask each of the competing schools these questions before making a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Ask if the colleges you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. 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 select an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can investigate a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact several Steele Creek AK physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your program options. It may also be a good idea to contact the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean 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 Steele Creek AK area? If a program has a higher job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the program has a large network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you choose provides both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the physical therapy schools you are interested in have relationships with Steele Creek AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Steele Creek healthcare community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Steele Creek AK residence. Students who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Aid Provided? The majority of DPT schools provide some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department and find out what kind of assistance is obtainable. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance might be available.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapy college you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Steele Creek AK area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Steele Creek Physical Therapy School
Picking the ideal physical therapist school is a necessary first decision you have to make to launch a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you decide on should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. But there are additional critical questions that you should ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that many variables will lead you to your final decision. You may want to go to different campuses to view their facilities and speak to current 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 adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the proper training and education, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Steele Creek Alaska.