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How to Select the Right Physical Therapist Program Near Tanaina Alaska

Tanaina Alaska physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Tanaina AK is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated due to illness or injury regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the proper education and training. A PT must also become licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate those you are looking at to ensure they will furnish a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select 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 besides location and cost. But before we talk about 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?

Tanaina Alaska DPT helping woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including Tanaina AK hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try to stop any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Tanaina AK medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and stand, crouch and kneel for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Tanaina Alaska physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapist degree options offered for individuals to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Tanaina AK area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically part of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to becoming a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically require four years to finish and usually include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a licensed practicing 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 3 years to complete, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Practical or clinical training is an essential component along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely 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 United States. Some practicing 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 instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Colleges

Tanaina Alaska female student taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Tanaina AK residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition may be significantly less than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

At this point you probably have made a decision concerning several of your initial queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But since there are numerous PT schools within the Tanaina AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll have to research other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Moreover, you need to make certain that you enroll in the program that is right for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of essential questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are considering have earned accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapy school and program you select are accredited, not just the school. Also, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides ensuring that you obtain an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Standing? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you select have outstanding reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are a number of ways you can research a PT program's reputation, beginning 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. Get in touch with a few Tanaina AK physical therapist centers or other health care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your school options. 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 colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students dropped out 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's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even excellent. It also affirms that the school has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the program you choose provides both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapy programs you are reviewing have relationships with Tanaina AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Tanaina healthcare community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on 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 opinions regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Tanaina AK home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide 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 commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Most DPT schools offer some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department and find out what kind of help is available. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapist school you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Tanaina AK area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Tanaina Online Physical Therapist Schools

Choose the Right Tanaina Physical Therapist School

Selecting the best physical therapy school is an important first decision you have to make to launch a gratifying career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you enroll in should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are other critical questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that many factors will lead you toward your final decision. You might want to go to different campuses to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me reach 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 field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Tanaina Alaska.


 

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