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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy Training Program Near Wasilla Alaska

Wasilla Alaska physical therapist working with woman using exercise ballReceiving a physical therapist degree near Wasilla AK is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the necessary education and training. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are considering to make certain they will deliver a quality education and satisfy your state's licensing standards. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated in addition to 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 Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Wasilla Alaska DPT assisting woman to walk

Physical therapists practice in diverse settings, such as Wasilla AK hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they have the equipment for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to resolve the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Burn injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Wasilla AK health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They may also manage one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to bear 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 extended periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Wasilla Alaska DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degrees available for individuals to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is offered 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 progress to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Wasilla AK area:

  • Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or can be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are most often made available by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to prep candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they normally take four years to finish and usually incorporate an internship program of at least 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required in order 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 3 years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in most cases. Practical or clinical training is an important component along with the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in several 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 phased out and is no longer attainable 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 Therapy Programs Online

Wasilla Alaska woman taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. Fortunately, the online portion of the curriculum may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Wasilla AK home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition may be somewhat lower than comparable on-campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Programs

At this point you most likely have made a decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, including the type of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Wasilla AK area and across Alaska, you'll need to research other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of school choices. Moreover, you want to make sure that you enroll in the program that is ideal for you. That's why we have put together a list of important questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are reviewing have received 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 program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Reputation? Along with accreditation, it's important that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT school's reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Get in touch with a few Wasilla AK physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your school options. It may also be prudent to contact 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 Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy schools you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Wasilla AK area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the healthcare field is good or even exceptional. It also verifies that the program has a wide network of contacts to assist students get internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the program you choose provides both superior training and a course of study 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) along with a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapy schools you are reviewing have relationships with Wasilla AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Wasilla medical community and assist with job placement once licensed.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program also.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Wasilla AK home. Students who have decided to attend classes online 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 keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Support Offered? Most DPT colleges provide some form of financial support to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and see what kind of help is available. At a minimum they should help in securing a student loan or any grants you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist college you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Wasilla AK area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Wasilla Physical Therapist Training

Choose the Right Wasilla Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the best physical therapy college is an important first decision you have to make to begin a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you pick should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist college keep in mind that numerous variables will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might want to go to different campuses to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Wasilla Alaska.


 

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