How to Choose the Right Physical Therapy College Near Wasilla Alaska
Getting a physical therapist 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 disabled as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the necessary training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in every state, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to research the ones you are looking at to make certain they will supply a superior education and meet your state's licensing standards. What you should not do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be considered besides cost and location. 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 is a Physical Therapist's Job Description?
Physical therapists practice in varying locations, including Wasilla AK hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all have in common is that they have the equipment for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Car or motor cycle accidents
- Head injuries
- Heart attacks
- Sports injuries
- Burn injuries
- Knee Replacement
- Multiple Sclerosis
Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Wasilla AK medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. One thing to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degrees
There are three physical therapy degree options available for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the one 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 preparing them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short explanations of degrees that are offered to prospective students in the Wasilla AK area:
- Associate Degrees educate students to become physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is normally part of the course of study.
- Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to prep students to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential initial step to becoming a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally take four years to finish and often 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 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 commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component in addition to the considerable 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 replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.
Physical Therapist Online Programs
While not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are many accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are integrated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Wasilla AK home. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more affordable. Tuition may be significantly lower than similar on campus alternatives, and costs for commuting are minimized. And many of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Schools
By now you undoubtedly have come to decision regarding a few of your initial queries, including the type of physical therapist degree you want to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are so many PT colleges within the Wasilla AK area and throughout Alaska, you'll have to research additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college choices. Furthermore, you need to be sure that you select the program that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapy Program Accredited? Ask if the programs you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. 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 college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not just 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 an excellent education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.
What is the School's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you choose have outstanding reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are multiple ways you can research a PT school's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Get in touch with several Wasilla AK physical therapist clinics or other medical care facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your school options. It might also be prudent to contact the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been filed against the colleges.
What is the Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are considering. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate may suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the support 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 community is good or perhaps exceptional. It also verifies that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students get internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you select provides both superior training and a course of study that supports the licensing criteria for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental exams.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the physical therapy colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Wasilla AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional connections in the Wasilla medical community and help with job placement once licensed.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the physical therapist program also.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist school they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Wasilla AK home. Those who have opted 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 concern. One thing 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 generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial aid to their potential students. Inquire if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid office and see what type of help is offered. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid may be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy college you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Wasilla AK area, make sure 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 procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Wasilla Physical Therapist School
Deciding on the right physical therapist school is a necessary first decision you need to make to start a gratifying career in the medical field. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are other critical questions that you should ask concerning your college of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist school bear in mind that numerous factors will guide you toward your ultimate decision. You might decide to go to different schools to view their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the field so you can make the appropriate choice. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream to become a practicing physical therapist in Wasilla Alaska.