How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist College Near Steele Creek Alaska
Obtaining a physical therapy degree near Steele Creek AK is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been incapacitated as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to obtain the proper 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 college. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to research those you are looking at to make certain they will provide a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered besides location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists practice in a variety of locations, such as Steele Creek AK private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Hip Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Steele Creek AK medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise one or more 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 routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees Offered
There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target 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 become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the program.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prepare students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program must also 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 essential element along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.
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 USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Schools Online
While not as common as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so 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 requires that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Steele Creek AK home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
By now you most likely have made a decision concerning a few of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Steele Creek AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll need to explore other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Also, you want to make certain that you pick the college that is best for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask each of the competing schools these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Ask if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. 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 enroll in an online college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Contact some Steele Creek AK physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college options. It might also be prudent to contact the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two useful statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many 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 perhaps outstanding. It also confirms that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you choose furnishes both superior training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internships Offered? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are reviewing have relationships with Steele Creek AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way 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 medical community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Steele Creek AK home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically 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 Support Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial support to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial assistance office and see what kind of assistance is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. Some physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid may be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Steele Creek AK area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Steele Creek Physical Therapist School
Choosing the right physical therapy school is a necessary first decision you must make to begin a rewarding career in the medical profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you pick should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are additional critical questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that many variables will lead you to your final decision. You may want to visit different colleges to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the best choice. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Steele Creek Alaska.