How to Choose a Physical Therapy Program near Anchorage 99501
Earning a physical therapy degree near Anchorage AK is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been disabled as a result of injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the proper training and education. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to selecting a physical therapy school, it’s necessary to research the ones you are considering to make sure they will furnish a superior education and satisfy your state’s licensing standards. What you do not want to do is select a college simply because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated along with cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we’ll address what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists practice in varying locations, such as Anchorage AK hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by illness or injury. After patient diagnosis, they create a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are numerous, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Head injuries.
- Heart attacks.
- Sports injuries.
- Burn injuries.
- Hip Replacement.
- Multiple Sclerosis.
Licensed physical therapists work in close partnerships with other Anchorage AK health specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also oversee several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone thinking about getting into the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists often lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for extended periods of time on a daily basis.
Physical Therapist Degree Options
There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for individuals to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these options, the only degree that is available to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or preparing them to progress to the doctoral level. Following are brief descriptions of degree levels that are available in the Anchorage 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 earned a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The programs are most often provided by community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is usually a portion of the program.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are created as pre-physical therapist training to prep students to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement 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 take 4 years to complete and commonly include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
- Doctorate Degrees are mandated in order to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor’s degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an important component in addition to the substantial lab and classroom instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not just for graduation but in some states for licensing also.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master’s of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master’s or even a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in before the present licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapy Programs Online
While not as common as the more traditional options, there are a number of accredited online physical therapist degrees available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live close to the college campus or in proximity of an available internship. However, the online portion of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student’s Anchorage AK residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar on campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the ideal choice for those students that are motivated enough to attend classes at home.
What to Ask Physical Therapy Schools
At this point you most likely have made a decision regarding some of your initial queries, such as the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Anchorage AK area and across Alaska, you’ll have to research additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college choices. Moreover, you want to be sure that you enroll in the program that is right for you. That’s why 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 a final decision.
Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited? Find out if the programs you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As earlier mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online college, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with ensuring that you obtain a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial aid.
What is the Program’s Ranking? Along with accreditation, it’s essential that the school and program you choose have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several 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 also. Get in touch with a few Anchorage AK physical therapist centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can provide any insight about your program selections. It might also be prudent to contact the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.
What is the College’s Job Placement Rate? There are a two useful statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students dropped out due to 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 Anchorage AK area? If a program 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 large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs after graduation.
Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It’s essential that the school you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a course of study 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 therapy school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be performed and passing scores on additional tests.
Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapist colleges you are interested in have partnerships with Anchorage AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Anchorage health care community and help with job placement once licensed.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy tech program also.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapist school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Anchorage AK home. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Help Provided? The majority of DPT colleges supply some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have a financial assistance office and see what type of help is obtainable. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid might be available.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist program you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Anchorage AK area, confirm 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 enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Earning Your Physical Therapy Degree near Anchorage Alaska?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Anchorage AK area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.
Anchorage (officially called the Municipality of Anchorage; Dena'ina: Dgheyaytnu) is a unified home rule municipality in the U.S. state of Alaska. With an estimated 298,192 residents in 2016, it is Alaska's most populous city and contains more than 40 percent of the state's total population; among the 50 states, only New York has a higher percentage of residents who live in its most populous city. All together, the Anchorage metropolitan area, which combines Anchorage with the neighboring Matanuska-Susitna Borough, had a population of 401,635 in 2016, which accounts for more than half of the state's population. At 1,706 square miles of land area, the city is larger than the smallest state, Rhode Island, at 1,212 square miles.
Anchorage is in the south-central portion of Alaska, at the terminus of the Cook Inlet, on a peninsula formed by the Knik Arm to the north and the Turnagain Arm to the south. The city limits span 1,961.1 square miles (5,079.2 km2) which encompass the urban core, a joint military base, several outlying communities and almost all of Chugach State Park.
Due to its location, almost equidistant from New York City, Frankfurt, and Tokyo, Anchorage lies within 9 1⁄2 hours by air of nearly 90% of the industrialized world. For this reason, the Anchorage International Airport is a common refueling stop for many international cargo flights and home to a major FedEx hub, which the company calls a "critical part" of its global network of services.
Enroll in the Best Physical Therapy Training Program near Anchorage AK
Deciding on the ideal physical therapist program is a necessary first decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you pick should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. But there are other critical questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you start your search for a physical therapist college, keep in mind that numerous factors will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may want to go to different campuses to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me realize my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the ideal selection. And with the proper training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Anchorage AK.
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