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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy College Near Wasilla Alaska

Wasilla Alaska physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballObtaining a physical therapy degree near Wasilla AK is an essential first step to beginning a rewarding career in the health care field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated due to illness or injury gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's essential to investigate those you are looking at to make sure they will deliver a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is select a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we cover 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Wasilla Alaska physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in a variety of settings, including Wasilla AK private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier stated, physical therapists help patients that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also strive to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Wasilla AK medical professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering going into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Wasilla Alaska DPT working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees available for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short summaries of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Wasilla AK area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are usually made available by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. 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 therapist training to prep candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they normally require four years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential element along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in some states for licensing as well.

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 available in the United States. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the current licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Schools Online

Wasilla Alaska female student taking physical therapy training onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs available, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online segment of the curriculum can be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Wasilla AK residence. Online programs are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition might be significantly lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

At this point you most likely have come to decision regarding some of your initial questions, like the kind of physical therapy degree you want to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are so many PT schools within the Wasilla AK area and across Alaska, you'll have to explore other qualifications also in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you select the college that is ideal for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As earlier 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 college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy program and school you choose are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist community. There are multiple ways you can look into a PT program's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also check online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Call a few Wasilla AK physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your college options. It might also be prudent to check with the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? There are a two significant statistics that you should find out about all of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might suggest that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the assistance of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Wasilla AK area? If a program 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 college has a broad network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the School Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the college you enroll in provides both excellent training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are assessing have partnerships with Wasilla AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Wasilla health care community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist schools you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student 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 a chance to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist college they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Wasilla AK home. Those who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep 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 normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Most DPT schools provide some type of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the schools you are considering have a financial aid office and find out what type of aid is offered. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. Some physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid may be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapist program you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Wasilla AK area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Wasilla Physical Therapy Courses

Choose the Best Wasilla Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the best physical therapist school is an important first decision you have to make to start a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you decide on should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other important questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that many factors will lead you to your final decision. You might decide to go to different colleges to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Wasilla Alaska.


 

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