How to Find the Right Physical Therapist Degree Program near Soldotna 99669
Earning a physical therapist degree near Soldotna AK is an important first step to starting a fulfilling career in the medical care 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 acquire the necessary education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, a large number requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it’s important to research the ones you are looking at to ensure they will furnish a superior education and satisfy your state’s licensing standards. What you do not want to do is choose a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that must be considered in addition to location and cost. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we’ll cover what a physical therapist does and the options for education.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, such as Soldotna AK hospitals, health clinics, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As earlier mentioned, physical therapists help individuals that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and reduce or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any advancement of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:
- Osteoporosis and Arthritis
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Heart attacks.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Fire injuries.
- Knee Replacement.
- Cerebral Palsy.
Licensed physical therapists practice in close affiliation with other Soldotna AK medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They may also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them in diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to keep in mind for anyone thinking about entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite 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 Degrees
There are 3 physical therapy degree options available for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these options, the single degree that is available 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. Below are short explanations of degrees that are offered in the Soldotna AK area:
- Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The programs are typically provided by community or junior colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually part of the curriculum.
- Bachelor’s Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist training to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important first step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor’s degrees, they generally require 4 years to finish and often incorporate 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). In addition to the bachelor’s degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential element in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently 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 replaced 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 present licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.
Physical Therapist Colleges Online
Although not as prevalent as the on campus alternatives, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online segment of the course of study can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student’s Soldotna AK residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition might be somewhat less than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online programs 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 attend classes at home.
Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Programs
By now you most likely have come to decision concerning several of your preliminary questions, like the type of physical therapist degree you would like to earn, where you want to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But because there are numerous PT colleges within the Soldotna AK area and throughout Alaska, you’ll have to research additional qualifications also so as to further reduce your list of school choices. Also, you need to be sure that you select the program that is best for you. That’s why we have put together a list of essential questions that you must ask the physical therapy schools you are thinking about. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making an ultimate decision.
Is the Physical Therapist School Accredited? Find out if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national organization. As earlier mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you choose are accredited, not just the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive a quality education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.
What is the College’s Standing? Along with accreditation, it’s important that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist community. There are a number of ways you can research a PT school’s reputation, starting with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Get in touch with several Soldotna 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 college selections. 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 colleges.
What is the School’s Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you need to find out about all of the physical therapy schools you are reviewing. One is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the school’s job placement program, particularly in the Soldotna AK area? If a college has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care community is good or even excellent. It also verifies that the program has a large network of contacts to assist students gain internships or employment upon graduation.
Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It’s important that the school you select furnishes both superior training and a course of study that supports 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 PT and PTA graduates, some states require a minimum number of clinical hours be performed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the physical therapist programs you are assessing have partnerships with Soldotna AK hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Soldotna health care community and assist with obtaining employment after licensing.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching 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 decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Soldotna AK residence. Those who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
Is Financial Help Offered? The majority of DPT colleges offer some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are considering have a financial assistance department and see what type of aid is offered. They at least should help in obtaining a student loan or any grants you might be eligible for. A number of physical therapy schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a college because the tuition is beyond your budget, learn what financial aid might be available.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the physical therapist program you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Soldotna AK area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Earning Your Physical Therapy Degree near Soldotna Alaska?
If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Soldotna AK area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.
Soldotna is a home rule city in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, in the U.S. state of Alaska. At the 2010 census the population was 4,163, up from 3,759 in 2000. It is the seat of the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
Soldotna is located in the Southcentral portion of Alaska on the central-western portion of the Kenai Peninsula. The city limits span 7 square miles along the Kenai River, which empties into the Cook Inlet in the nearby city of Kenai. The Kenai River was selected by CNN Travel as one of the "World's 15 Best Rivers for Travelers," due to its fishing and hunting opportunities. Soldotna is located on the western edge of the vast Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, a protected area spanning nearly 2 million acres and home to bears, moose, caribou, sheep, and many fish and bird species.
The city is located at the junction of the Sterling Highway and the Kenai Spur Highway, which has enabled Soldotna to develop as a service and retail hub for the Central Peninsula as well as for travelers between Anchorage and Homer. The Central Peninsula Hospital serves the medical needs of the region's residents and tourists. The Kenai Peninsula College, a branch of the University of Alaska Anchorage, operates the Kenai River Campus in Soldotna. Additionally, the headquarters of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, the Kenai Peninsula Borough, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District are located in the city.
Choose the Best Physical Therapist School near Soldotna AK
Deciding on the right physical therapy program is a necessary first decision you have to make to begin a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have discussed in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and college you select should both have excellent reputations and accreditation. However there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask pertaining to your college of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapist program, keep in mind that a number of factors will lead you to your final decision. You might decide to visit each of the campuses to view their facilities and speak to active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me achieve my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best choice. And with the proper education and training, you can accomplish your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Soldotna AK.
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