Physical Therapy Assistant Program Information

Physical therapy assistant program details are available on the websites of schools and colleges, giving information about training courses to prepare aspiring PTAs to enter this fast-growing field. Healthcare service occupations are predicted to enjoy significant employment opportunities over the coming years, as the population lives longer, and as medical science finds new diagnoses and treatments to help people cope with illness and disability.

Becoming a Physical Therapy Assistant

The profession of physical therapy assisting is drawing in new entrants from many different walks of life, including high school graduates and those who are interested in transitioning from other occupations. In order to begin a career as a physical therapy assistant, it’s necessary to graduate from one of the physical therapy assistant programs currently accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Afterwards, it is usually necessary to gain a license or certification in order to go into professional practice.

PTA Program Formats

Physical Therapy Assistant Program Information

CAPTE currently accredits over 250 PTA programs in the US. These courses normally lead to an Associate’s degree and take five or six semesters to complete. A few colleges offer the lecture component of their programs online, with lab classes conducted on-site at weekends. This allows those who need to keep working at a part-time job to combine their study with other commitments. But it’s important for students contemplating this option to realise that PTA training is a rigorous course of study requiring a significant devotion of time in order to prepare for classes and complete assignments.

Students should also be aware that whatever course format they choose, they will have to complete a number of clinical rotations in order to graduate. These are full-time courses of several weeks duration which have to be completed in physical therapy facilities prescribed by the school. CAPTE does not accredit courses whose content is delivered exclusively online.

Admission to a Physical Therapy Assistant Program

Individual schools have their own admissions policies, and prospective students should enquire for up-to-date details from the colleges that interest them. Candidates are usually expected to fulfil pre-requisite conditions such as:

  • Completion of a period of volunteer work experience or observation in one or more approved physical therapy settings
  • completion (with grade C or above) of general education courses such as English composition, mathematics/algebra, other humanities/fine arts courses, and professionally related courses such as medical terminology, anatomy and physiology
  • CPR certification
  • satisfactory performance in an assessment test such as HOBET V

Some schools also require attendance at an orientation/information session, an interview, and a testimonial from a licensed physical therapist or PTA.

Program Content in Physical Therapist Assistant Courses

Courses that make up the professional core of the program are likely to include topics such as kinesiology, functional modalities, therapeutic exercise, patient care, testing and data collection, rehabilitation, and three clinical experiences. Schools often require students to take these courses in a prescribed order and in a specific semester, and students need to complete a course to a satisfactory level in order to progress onto the next.

After graduating with an Associate of Science degree from an accredited institution, students are eligible to sit the National Physical Therapy Exam and apply for licensure in the jurisdiction where they wish to work. Almost every state in the US regulates the practice of physical therapy by requiring professionals to hold a current licence, which needs to be updated within a specified period.

If you’re interested in finding more information about an accredited physical therapy assistant program in your area, feel free to explore other articles from the menu on the right — or you can go directly to the CAPTE website and look up their directory programs.

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