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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near Steele Creek Alaska

Steele Creek Alaska physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Steele Creek AK is a critical first step to launching a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the proper training and education. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are considering to ensure they will supply a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you should not do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered besides 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 the options for education.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Steele Creek Alaska DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, including Steele Creek AK private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Steele Creek AK medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Steele Creek Alaska physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Steele Creek AK area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community colleges, and take about 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapy education to ready 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 most bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the total commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only 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 eliminated and is no longer attainable in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

Steele Creek Alaska woman taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature 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 an available internship. Fortunately, the online part of the program may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Steele Creek AK residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition may be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you most likely have come to decision concerning several of your initial queries, like the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Steele Creek AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll have to research other qualifications as well so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Moreover, you want to make sure that you select the school that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Ask if the schools you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional 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 choose an online school, it may also earn 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. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Get in touch with some Steele Creek AK physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your college options. It may also be prudent 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 Percentage? There are a couple of important statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are considering. One 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, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Steele Creek AK area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you select 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 every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are interested in have associations with Steele Creek AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Steele Creek health care community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Steele Creek AK home. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to consider 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 commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT colleges provide some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance office and see what kind of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Steele Creek AK area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About Steele Creek Online Physical Therapy Training

Enroll in the Best Steele Creek Physical Therapist School

Picking the ideal physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you need to make to begin a rewarding career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you decide on should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are other critical questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that numerous factors will lead you toward your final decision. You might want to visit each of the schools to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Steele Creek Alaska.


 

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