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North Dakota Physical Therapy Education

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Across the United States there is a growing demand for physical therapists and the state of North Dakota is experiencing this demand. To determine the availability of jobs in a particular profession, in this case, physical therapy, it is helpful to look at vital statistics for the population the profession serves.

The demand for physical therapists in an area is often linked to the percentage of elderly individuals in the area. As people age they are more likely to require the services of a physical therapist. In North Dakota, a largely rural state, the percentage of residents 65 years of age and older was 14.7 percent according to the 2010 Census. This is almost two full percentage points more than the national average of 12.9 percent, as concluded by the same census.

Physical therapists are highly skilled and must receive extensive educational and practical experience before they are even considered for licensure in the state of North Dakota. Physical therapists must acquire at least a two-year master's degree before being licensed to practice. This degree must be obtained from a school that has been approved and accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association's Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.

North Dakota physical therapists have a modest number of schools and programs to choose from within the state. However, students can access out-of-state programs without leaving home thanks to online courses. The advent of online learning has put many top programs at the hands of students who would be otherwise limited by their location. People interested in the physical therapy field should seek to get experience before entering an educational program because many of these programs are closed to people who do not have practical experience. This experience can usually be obtained by volunteering at a hospital or clinic.

Experience working with patients before entering an educational program is even more important for students who plan to complete all their studies online. In fact, earning a master's degree in physical therapy through online work solely is not encouraged because of the physical nature of the career and the need to get hands-on experiences. For high school graduates, the key to earning the required educational degrees to practice physical therapy is focusing on an undergraduate degree that stresses sciences in addition to the required courses for undergraduates. Students who have already earned an associate's degree will also need to add more science courses before eventually earning a master's that will allow them to practice physical therapy in North Dakota. The most desirable schools in the state offer programs that ideally combine classes, labs and practical work to prepare future therapists.

Classes will be concentrated in the areas of biology, physics and chemistry. Students will learn the ins and outs of human growth and development and delve into biomechanics and neuroanatomy, and learn how disease affects the body. Of course students will identify the necessary techniques and skills all therapists must use to perform their particular jobs. After completing the educational requirements, students wishing to practice must pass an examination (governed by the state's governing board of physical therapy) as they work to obtain both a state and national license. Once licensed, therapists in North Dakota should find various job opportunities in clinics, hospitals, nursing facilities, rehabilitation centers, individuals' homes and other facilities.