Physical Therapist Schools | Get Your Physical Therapy Degree – Gig Harbor WA

How to Select a Physical Therapy Program near Gig Harbor 98329

Gig Harbor WA physical therapy school student with volunteerObtaining a physical therapy degree near Gig Harbor WA is an important first step to starting a fulfilling career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been debilitated due to injury or illness regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they need to get the appropriate training and education. A PT must also be licensed in all states, many requiring that the licensee earn a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So prior to enrolling in a physical therapy school, it’s necessary to research the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will deliver a superior education and meet your state’s licensing standards. What you should not do is select a college just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other significant qualifications that need to be considered besides cost and location. But before we talk about 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 Do Physical Therapists Do?

Gig Harbor WA physical therapist helping patient walkPhysical therapists practice in a variety of settings, such as Gig Harbor WA private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a program of treatment to address the mobility problems and lessen or eradicate any pain. They also try 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
  • Head injuries.
  • Cardiac arrest.
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
  • Fire injuries.
  • Hip Replacement.
  • Sciatica.
  • Multiple Sclerosis.

Licensed physical therapists work in close affiliation with other Gig Harbor WA medical specialists, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking about going into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift patients and heavy equipment, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees Offered

Gig Harbor WA physical therapist applying acupuncture to patientThere are three physical therapist degrees available for individuals to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single 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 advance to the doctoral level. Below are brief descriptions of degrees that are offered in the Gig Harbor WA area:

  • Associate Degrees prepare students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically provided by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is normally a portion of the course of study.
  • Bachelor’s Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to prep students to progress to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with most bachelor’s degrees, they normally take four years to complete and often include an internship program of a minimum of 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 three years to finish, making the overall investment of time seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component along with the extensive lab and classroom instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is required, not solely 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 phased out and is no longer available in the United States. A number of practicing physical therapists having a master’s or even a bachelor’s degree were “grandfathered” in before the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Programs

woman attending physical therapy school online in Gig Harbor WAWhile not as common as the on-campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapist degrees available, even more at the graduate level. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, clinical lab work and internships are incorporated with the online classes. This requires that the student live near 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 Gig Harbor WA residence. Online schools are not only to some extent more accessible, but in many instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly less than comparable on campus options, and expenses for commuting are reduced. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Subjects to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

At this point you undoubtedly have come to decision concerning a few of your initial questions, like the kind of physical therapist degree you would like to obtain, where you want to attend classes, and how much you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the Gig Harbor WA area and across Washington, you’ll need to research additional qualifications as well in order to further narrow your list of college options. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you enroll in the school that is best for you. That’s why we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy schools you are considering. Ask all of the competing colleges these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist Program Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a national or a regional organization. As previously 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 select an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It’s important that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Also, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with guaranteeing that you obtain a quality education, accreditation may be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the College’s Standing? In addition to accreditation, it’s important that the college and program you select have excellent reputations within the physical therapist profession. There are a number of ways you can look into a PT school’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 organizations for their reviews as well. Call some Gig Harbor WA physical therapy centers or other health care facilities that you might have an interest in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your college options. It might also be a good idea to contact the Washington Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the School’s Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of significant statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A lower rate might mean that students dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the college’s job placement program, particularly in the Gig Harbor WA area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the medical care field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the school has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It’s imperative that the school you enroll in provides both excellent training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing requirements for Washington or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapist schools you are evaluating have relationships with Gig Harbor WA hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Gig Harbor medical community and help with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.

Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapy college they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Gig Harbor WA home. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry 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 decide to enroll in a school 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 Help Offered? Most DPT colleges offer some form of financial aid to their potential students. Find out if the colleges you are considering have a financial assistance office and find out what type of assistance is available. They at least should help in getting a student loan or any grants you may be eligible for. A number of physical therapist schools provide scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a college because the tuition is too expensive, ask what financial assistance may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the physical therapy school you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Gig Harbor WA area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Earning Your Physical Therapy Degree near Gig Harbor Washington?

If you are planning on attending a Physical Therapy School in the Gig Harbor WA area, the following information may prove to be both interesting and educational regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.

Gig Harbor, Washington

Gig Harbor is one of several cities and towns that claim to be "the gateway to the Olympic Peninsula". Due to its close access to several state and city parks, and historic waterfront that includes boutiques and fine dining, it has become a popular tourist destination. Gig Harbor is located along State Route 16, about six miles (10 km) from its origin at Interstate 5, over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.[6][7] A $1.2 billion project to add a second span to the bridge was completed in 2007.[8] From Gig Harbor, Tacoma can be reached in just under 20 minutes and Seattle in just under an hour.[9]

During a heavy storm in 1840, Captain Charles Wilkes brought the Captain's gig (small boat) into the harbor for protection.[10] Later, with the publication of Wilkes 1841 map of the Oregon Territory, he named the sheltered bay Gig Harbor.

Gig Harbor was officially incorporated on July 12, 1946. Commercial fishing, boat building and logging dominated the economy until the construction of the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940. Until then, the primary method of transportation between Gig Harbor and the economic center of nearby Tacoma was by steamship. Starting in 1836 steamships started plying the waters of Puget Sound and quickly developed into what was eventually dubbed "The Mosquito Fleet." Gig Harbor, isolated from Tacoma and Seattle by Puget Sound and the Tacoma Narrows, could not be reached by automobile or horseback except by a very long and arduous trip south around Puget Sound and Hammersly Inlet. The boom was to be short lived as the first bridge collapsed just months after it was completed. The resource demands of World War II prevented another bridge from being built until 1950. Between the time when the first bridge collapsed and when the second bridge was completed, a state run ferry service delivered drivers directly into downtown Gig Harbor. Remains of the ferry dock can still be seen just outside the mouth of the harbor at the southeast end of Harborview Drive. The area has been turned into a small park, where the public can see a panoramic view of the Cascade Mountains, Point Defiance and Mount Rainier.

Select the Right Physical Therapist School near Gig Harbor WA

Picking the right physical therapy college is an important initial decision you must make to launch a gratifying career in the medical field. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. However there are additional critical questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice also. As you commence your search for a physical therapy college, keep in mind that a number of variables will lead you toward your final decision. You might decide to go to different campuses to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the right choice. And with the proper education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Gig Harbor WA.

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