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

Steele Creek Alaska physical therapist working with woman using balance ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Steele Creek AK is an essential first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to ensure they will supply a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is choose a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered besides cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?

Steele Creek Alaska DPT assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, including Steele Creek AK private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. 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 suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Steele Creek AK medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Steele Creek Alaska DPT working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief explanations of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Steele Creek AK area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The programs are most often made available by community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to finish and commonly include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the overall commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an important element in addition to the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in a number of 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 United States. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

Steele Creek Alaska woman taking physical therapist training onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Steele Creek AK home. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many cases more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat lower than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These benefits can make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you undoubtedly have made a decision concerning a few of your initial questions, like the type of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Steele Creek AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll have to explore other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you select the program that is best for you. That's why we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national 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 choose an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be required for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, beginning 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 several Steele Creek AK physical therapy clinics or other healthcare facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any recommendations about your program selections. 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapy programs you are considering. First 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 placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Steele Creek AK area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you choose provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the physical therapist programs you are interested in have associations with Steele Creek AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to obtain practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional connections in the Steele Creek medical community and assist with job placement after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Steele Creek AK residence. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local 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 may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? The majority of DPT schools supply some form of financial assistance to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial aid department and see what kind of help is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapy college you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Steele Creek AK area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Steele Creek Online Physical Therapist Colleges

Enroll in the Best Steele Creek Physical Therapist School

Choosing the ideal physical therapist school is an important first decision you need to make to launch a gratifying career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have exceptional reputations and be accredited. However there are additional relevant 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 numerous factors will guide you to your final decision. You may want to visit each of the colleges to view their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school help me achieve 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 options so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Steele Creek Alaska.


 

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