The Physical Therapist Assistant program is designed to prepare individuals to work under the supervision of a Physical Therapist in the delivery of physical therapy services. Responsibilities include: implementing treatment programs according to the Physical Therapist’s plan of care, training patients in exercises and activities of daily living, administering modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and other treatment procedures, and communicating with the Physical Therapist on the patient’s progress.
The program is two academic years in length (including one summer session), and is designed to prepare graduates for an entry-level position as a Physical Therapist Assistant, who works under the supervision of a physical therapist.
The program consists of courses in the sciences, as well as requiring coursework in communication and general psychology. PTA technical courses include both theory and supervised laboratory practice. The program also includes clinical experience that is sequenced throughout the two years, thus providing adequate time for the student to practice the skills, knowledge, and attitudes learned in the coursework.
The applicant must complete the application process through the health professions counselor located in the Student Development Office. Entrance requirements include the following criteria:
- Have a high school diploma or its equivalent.
- Meet two of the three following criteria:
- Graduated in the upper half of the high school class.
- Graduated from high school with a minimum of a 3.00 GPA.
- Achieved an ACT composite score of 20 or higher.
Applicants who do not meet the above requirements or those with a poor academic history may meet entrance requirements by successfully completing approved college courses with a cumulative GPA of 2.00. This should be discussed with the health professions counselor.
- Documented evidence of 12 hours of observation time in a physical therapy setting. When an applicant applies to the program, a required form will need to be used to document these hours. This form is available through the Student Developmental Office.
An applicant’s file will not be reviewed until all application criteria have been submitted. All applicants who meet the entrance requirements will be accepted in order of the date on their application.
The following courses must be completed with a grade of C or higher:
Four semesters of high school/college preparatory math (e.g., Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry)
Two semesters of college math (e.g., MAT-063, Elementary Algebra, MAT-092, Intermediate Algebra)
Two semesters of high school/college preparatory biology
One semester of college biology (e.g., BIO-102/103, Introductory Biology and lab)
Two semesters of high school/college preparatory chemistry or physics
One semester of college chemistry (e.g., CHM-122, Introduction to General Chemistry) or physics (e.g., PHY-106, Survey of Physics)
After acceptance, a physical examination documenting current immunization and abilities to perform program requirements is needed. Students are also required to obtain CPR certification for the adult, child, and infant. CPR certification must be kept current while in the program. In addition, criminal background checks and adult/dependent abuse checks will also be required. Results of these checks will be used by contracted clinical facilities to determine clinical eligibility. Costs for requirements will be the responsibility of the student.
After being accepted into the program, a student may delay entrance into the program no more than two (2) years. A student will be required to reapply to the program after this period of time.
Further information regarding progression in the program and specific program policies is provided to the student in the PTA Program Student Handbook. Students are provided this handbook the first week of classes. Students are encouraged to refer to this handbook throughout the program.
Physical Therapist Assistants are employed at a variety of settings including but not limited to the following: hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, clinics, private practice clinics, rehabilitation centers, home health agencies, sports injury clinics, outpatient clinics, industrial settings, academic institutions. Physical Therapist Assistants work with: prostheses (artificial limbs), orthoses (artificial supports); braces, canes, crutches, and walkers; wheelchairs; traction equipment, exercise equipment such as lifts, weights, and parallel bars; medical records.
According to the United States Department of Labor, the 2012 annual mean wage of the physical therapist assistant was $52,320, and employment of the physical therapist assistant is expected to increase by 46 percent through the year 2020.