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

Tanaina Alaska physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Tanaina AK is an important first step to launching a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been incapacitated due to injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the proper education and training. A PT must also be licensed in all states, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are looking at to make certain they will furnish a quality education and comply with 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 the lowest tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be considered along with cost and location. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Tanaina Alaska physical therapist assisting female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, such as 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 earlier stated, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Tanaina AK health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Tanaina Alaska physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is offered that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are brief explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Tanaina AK area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are most often offered by community or junior colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to ready candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to complete and often include an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement 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). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an intregal component along with the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in a number of states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced 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 having a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

Tanaina Alaska female student taking physical therapy training onlineAlthough not as common as the more traditional 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 combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Tanaina AK home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat less than comparable on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And a number of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

Questions to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding several of your initial questions, such as the type of physical therapist degree you intend to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Tanaina AK area and across Alaska, you'll need to research other qualifications also in order to further narrow your list of school options. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you enroll in the college that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. Ask each of the competing colleges these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously mentioned, 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 essential that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation may be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's important that the college and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You may also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call some Tanaina AK physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your program options. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.

What is the College's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to find out about each of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may indicate that students left because of displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Tanaina AK area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the school has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you enroll in furnishes both superior training and a curriculum that supports 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) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist college. Although licensing requirements differ 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 Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have relationships with Tanaina AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Tanaina medical community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Tanaina AK home. Students who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually 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 Assistance Provided? Most DPT schools offer some type of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department and find out what type of help is offered. At a minimum they should help in acquiring a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapy school you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Tanaina AK area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Tanaina Online Physical Therapist Programs

Choose the Best Tanaina Physical Therapy School

Selecting the ideal physical therapy college is an important first decision you have to make to launch a gratifying career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you choose should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you should ask regarding your college of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapist program bear in mind that a number of factors will lead you toward your ultimate decision. You may want to visit each of the campuses to see 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 following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Tanaina Alaska.


 

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