A physical therapy assistant or PTA is a licensed professional who works side by side with a licensed physical therapist. Like nursing assistants, a PTA provides direct assistance to patients who are suffering from conditions that affect their mobility and their capability to engage in everyday activities. In the United States, the projected increase for PTAs demand by the year 2016 is around 28%, which means that the medical sector is striving really hard to produce more PTAs to meet this demand. One of most obvious reasons why PTAs are highly in demand is because more and more people today are reaching an elderly age as compared before. These people suffer from arthritis and speech difficulties caused by old age, it a PTA’s job to assist them to recover back to normal health.
Physical Therapy Assistant Regulations
Each state has its own set of physical therapy assistant requirements for a student to be eligible for the licensing and here are the most basics of them:
Before you can become a licensed PTA, you need an associate degree program that lasts to up to two years. During training, you will study various subjects like physiology, human anatomy, treatment modalities, pathology and the basic PTA roles. These classes are composed of both hands on work and theoretical study and are basic physical therapy assistant education requirements.
- Clinical experience
Students are required to participate in clinical rotations that allow them to test their skills under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. You will be handling different things like administering treatments, documenting care and educating patients. You will have a chance to try different sub-focus like pediatrics, wound care, geriatrics and sports medicine. Internship program and experiences help you develop and apply your new learned skill.
- Professional board examination and licensure
Once you have graduated from your training course, you must now take the NPTAE or the National Physical Therapy Assistant Exam. This is one of the core physical therapy assistant license requirements. The NPTAE is a four-and-a-half hour long examination that is composed of 200 questions. Most of the topics included in the examination are pathology, anatomy, physiology, pathology, professional skills and documentation.
All subjects that will appear on the licensure examination are tackled during training, which is why it is important that you pay enough attention during your training course. Some states require additional training like CPA and first aid training and certification as well as safety training also known as blood-borne pathogens training. Without these requirements, you will not be able to apply for the licensure test.
- Continuing education requirements
Even if you already have a license, you need to continue your education because this is a requirement for license renewal. The required number of educational practice varies from state to state. A PTA license renewal process is usually issued every three to five years, depending on your state.
As a PTA, your job is very demanding and it is physically stressful. Before even starting with this career, you should evaluate yourself. You need to learn how to be emphatic and capable of motivating patients to get them to obey your instructions. Sometimes, exercises can be very stressful to patients so you need to ensure that the things you make them do should not cause them any discomfort. You should have great interpersonal skill and communication skill (both oral and written) to succeed in this industry.