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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Course Near Sterling Alaska

Sterling Alaska physical therapist working with female patient using balance ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Sterling AK is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the proper training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate those you are looking at to make certain they will supply a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you should not do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated in addition to location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Sterling Alaska physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, such as Sterling AK hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Sterling AK medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can 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 going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Offered

Sterling Alaska DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is attainable 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. Following are short summaries of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Sterling AK area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and take about two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally require 4 years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a practicing licensed 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 three years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in a number of 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 eliminated and is no longer offered in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing mandate for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapist Online Schools

Sterling Alaska female student taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Sterling AK home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition can be significantly less 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 ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding some of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you want to earn, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Sterling AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll have to explore other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college options. Also, you want to make certain that you select the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are considering have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier 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 program, it can also earn 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 through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. 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 search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call a few Sterling AK physical therapist clinics or other healthcare facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your program selections. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two relevant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Sterling AK area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps exceptional. It also affirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you choose provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing criteria 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are evaluating have relationships with Sterling AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Sterling health care community and help with job placement after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Sterling AK residence. Those who have decided to attend classes online obviously 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 usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? The majority of DPT colleges supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have a financial assistance office and find out what kind of aid is available. At a minimum they should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapy school you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Sterling AK area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Sterling Online Physical Therapy Courses

Choose the Best Sterling Physical Therapy School

Choosing the ideal physical therapist program is a necessary first decision you have to make to start a fulfilling career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that many variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to different campuses to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Sterling Alaska.


 

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