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How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program Near Tanaina Alaska

Tanaina Alaska physical therapist working with woman using balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Tanaina AK is a critical first step to launching a fulfilling career in the medical care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to acquire the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's essential to evaluate those you are considering to ensure they will deliver a superior education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we cover 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Tanaina Alaska physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, such as Tanaina AK hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help people that are suffering from a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Tanaina AK medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Tanaina Alaska physical therapist working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees offered for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is attainable 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 preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Tanaina AK area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually made available by community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to complete and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the total commitment 7 years in most cases. Clinical training is an intregal component in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not only for graduation but in several states for licensing also.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer available in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Programs

Tanaina Alaska woman taking physical therapist classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are many accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online segment of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Tanaina AK home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat less than comparable on-campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you probably have made a decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, such as the type of physical therapist degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Tanaina AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll need to research other qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Also, you need to make certain that you enroll in the school that is best 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 all of the competing schools these questions before making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. 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 college, 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 recognized accrediting agency. Besides guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are several ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Contact several Tanaina AK physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any advice about your program options. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may suggest that students left because of 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 Tanaina AK area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the program has a large network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the program you enroll in provides both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are reviewing have associations with Tanaina AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional connections in the Tanaina health care community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Tanaina AK residence. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Provided? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial support to their prospective students. Ask if the schools you are looking at have a financial aid department and see what type of help is offered. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial assistance might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapy program you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Tanaina AK area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Tanaina Physical Therapist Training

Enroll in the Best Tanaina Physical Therapist School

Selecting the right physical therapist college is a necessary initial decision you must make to launch a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you commence your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that numerous variables will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to visit different schools to see their facilities and speak to current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best selection. And with the necessary education and training, you can accomplish your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Tanaina Alaska.


 

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