How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Steele Creek Alaska
Receiving a physical therapist degree near Steele Creek AK is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the appropriate training and education. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's essential to research the ones you are looking at to ensure they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a college simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable 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 what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists practice in varying locations, such as 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 the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they design a course of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Fire injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Steele Creek AK medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise several physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapy Degrees Offered
There are three physical therapy degree options offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions 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 may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often made available by community or junior colleges, and take about two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they typically require 4 years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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 finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component along with the substantial 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 taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer attainable in the United States. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Online Programs
Although not as common as the on campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Steele Creek AK residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition can be significantly lower than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs
By now you most likely have made a decision regarding a few of your initial questions, such as the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Steele Creek AK area and across Alaska, you'll need to look into additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of school choices. Also, you want to make certain that you enroll in the program that is right for you. That's why we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask each of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final selection.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Find out if the schools you are considering have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.
What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with several Steele Creek AK physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any recommendations about your college selections. It might also be a good idea to check with the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two important statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might indicate that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After 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 program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps excellent. It also affirms that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the college you enroll in furnishes both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alaska or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as 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 performed and passing scores on additional exams.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are evaluating have partnerships with Steele Creek AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Steele Creek healthcare community and help with job placement after licensing.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy school they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Steele Creek AK home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT schools offer some form of financial aid to their potential students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial aid office and find out what kind of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might 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 assistance might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy program you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Steele Creek AK area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Steele Creek Physical Therapy School
Picking the best physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you have to make to start a rewarding career in the medical profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you select should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are other relevant questions that you should ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that many variables will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to each of the colleges to see their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Steele Creek Alaska.