Online Physical Therapy Assistant Programs

Online physical therapy assistant programs may seem appealing to those who are considering a career in physical therapy assisting, and who are currently working a full-time job, have domestic commitments or other obligations which they need to integrate with their study schedule. But before trying to become a PTA online, it’s very important to consider whether the training you would receive from such a program is a satisfactory preparation for a career.

What Are the Attractions of an Online Degree?

Online degrees have received a lot of publicity recently, and web based media delivery and communications have revolutionised the concept of distance learning. Some subjects lend themselves better than others to a virtual classroom format, and disciplined and well motivated students can often derive great benefit from being able to organize their own learning timetables.

Online Physical Therapy Assistant Programs

A great advantage of online degree courses is that they offer flexibility and accessibility for those who for a variety of reasons are unable to study on campus. The cost of tuition for a degree may mean that a would-be student would need to keep working in order to fund their studies. Other students may have family responsibilities or other commitments at home, and some may simply prefer the option to organize their study time to take place when it suits them best.

Studying online can often prove an economical option, avoiding the costs associated with living on campus or having to commute to and from class. In some cases, the curriculum of an online course may be no different from that provided by its on-campus counterpart.

What Are the Possible Disadvantages?

While online study may seem an attractive option on the surface, it may not be suitable for every student. Some learners need the support and motivation that comes from regular face-to-face contact with teachers and classmates, and may not have the self-discipline and independence to succeed in distance learning.

Prospective students also need to be certain that the training that they will receive will meet acceptable standards and that their qualifications will be recognized as valid. That’s why it is recommended that students only enroll in programs or schools that have been accredited by a legitimate agency.

Some subjects may not be suitable for online tuition, or may have modules or components which necessitate hands-on participation or on-site attendance. In such cases, it may be possible to take part of the academic content online, but students would need to travel to a teaching center to complete practical course elements.

How Does This Relate to Physical Therapy Assistant Programs?

In almost every state in the United States, physical therapist assistants need to be licensed or certified in order to practice. Each state has its own specific criteria for licensing PTAs. But a common requirement is that a candidate should have completed a two year Associate’s degree course accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), as well as passing the National Physical Therapy Examination or nationally recognized equivalent. CAPTE is the only agency that accredits physical therapy assistant programs, and it does not accredit any program that offers its content exclusively online.

This means that if you really want to study online for your physical therapy assistant degree, you must be sure that the course is currently accredited by CAPTE so that you will be eligible to sit for the licensure exam after you graduate. The course will at best be a “hybrid” program, meaning that even though you may be able to study some of the technical, theoretical classes online, you will still have to attend laboratory sessions and clinical practicums in person in order to qualify.

PTA Courses with an Online Component

At the time of writing, the following schools offer accredited physical therapist assistant programs with an online study option for certain courses such as lecture components:

Clark State Community College
Physical Therapist Assistant Program
570 East Leffel Lane
PO Box 570
Springfield, OH 45501-0570

Contact details: Terri Dinsmore – Program Coordinator

GateWay Community College
Physical Therapist Assistant Program
108 North 40th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85034-1704

Contact details: Peter Zawicki – Program Director

Jefferson State Community College
Physical Therapist Assistant Program
Center for Health and Biological Sciences
4600 Valleydale Road
Birmingham, AL 35242-4607

Contact details: Andrea Harrill – Program Director / Coordinator

San Juan College
Physical Therapist Assistant Program
4601 College Boulevard
Farmington, NM 87402-4609

Contact details: Therese Millis – Interim Program Director

WhatCom Community College
Physical Therapist Assistant Program
237 West Kellogg Road
Bellingham, WA 98226-8033

Contact details: Margaret Anderson – Program Director

Interested students can get updated information about accredited online physical therapy assistant programs from the directory at the CAPTE website.

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