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How to Pick the Right Physical Therapy Course Near Wasilla Alaska

Wasilla Alaska physical therapist working with woman holding balance ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Wasilla AK is an essential first step to beginning a fulfilling career in the healthcare field. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must acquire the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally be licensed in all states, many mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it's necessary to evaluate the ones you are looking at to make certain they will deliver a quality education and meet your state's licensing criteria. What you do not want to do is select a school just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that must be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Wasilla Alaska DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying locations, 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 mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and in many cases pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they design a program of treatment to resolve the mobility problems and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close association with other Wasilla AK medical specialists, including doctors, chiropractors, dentists and nurses. They may also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them assisting with the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degree Options

Wasilla Alaska physical therapist working with man in pool

There are three physical therapy degree options offered for students to pursue at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the one degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees emphasize either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or prepping them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Wasilla AK area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be 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 be accepted for enrollment. The programs are typically made available by community colleges, and take about 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy education to ready candidates to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be a candidate for the doctoral program, they are an integral preliminary step to becoming a PT. Similar to most bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to complete and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are mandated 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). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 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 substantial lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not only for graduation but in a number of 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 offered in the USA. A number of practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Wasilla Alaska woman taking physical therapy classes onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby a sponsored internship. Fortunately, the online part of the course of study may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Wasilla AK home. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of cases 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, ensuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online alternative the best choice for those students that are disciplined enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you most likely have come to decision concerning several of your preliminary queries, like the type of physical therapy degree you intend 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 throughout Alaska, you'll have to look into other qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college options. Moreover, you want to make sure that you pick the college that is right for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions prior to making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Find out if the colleges you are looking at have received accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As previously 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 college, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's essential that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the School's Standing? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you choose have excellent reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, starting with requesting 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 as well. Get in touch with a few Wasilla AK physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any advice about your college selections. 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 Program's Job Placement Percentage? There are a two significant statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapy programs you are considering. One is their graduation rate. A lower rate might suggest that students left because of displeasure with the program, the instructors, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being hired with the help of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Wasilla AK area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care community is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the college has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the College Support Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you choose furnishes both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements 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 college. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have relationships with Wasilla AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Wasilla medical community and help with obtaining employment after licensing.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student 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 a chance to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Wasilla AK residence. Individuals who have chosen 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 importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

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

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy program you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Wasilla AK area, check 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 have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Wasilla Online Physical Therapy Colleges

Choose the Right Wasilla Physical Therapist School

Picking the best physical therapy college is an important initial decision you need to make to begin a fulfilling career in the medical profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you select should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. But there are other relevant questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your final decision. You might decide to go to each of the colleges to see their facilities and speak with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this school 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 options so you can make the ideal selection. And with the proper education and training, you can fulfill your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Wasilla Alaska.


 

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