PTAs have been enjoying above-average job growth and competitive wages in a recovering economy which is good news for students hoping to one day enroll for the program.
The road to becoming a physical therapy assistant starts early, with GPA scores and a variety of tests for the student aiming for the course.
In addition, students in high school should focus on subjects relevant to PTA if they want to join the program. Such subjects include languages, biology, health and math.
The admission process favors bilingual applicants so an interest in languages would go a long way in securing your admission. A number of PTA programs exist but they’re not all accredited.
The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) and American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) are responsible for approving PTA programs in the country and while a number of independent organizations offer their own programs, state licensing bodies only certify accredited programs.
Accredited Physical Therapy Assistant Programs
PTA courses offered online are found to be limited and incomprehensive because of the course itself requires use of proper lab equipment and actual clinical exposure. Some online courses have been accredited provided that students are allowed time in a practice lab and clinical experience. A number of things have to be considered before signing up for the program.
These are especially popular among the working group. Many schools offer some form of accelerated course where they cover the entire coursework over a shortened timeframe therefore allowing older students more time for work.
It normally takes 2 years of clinical and curriculum work to complete the regular program but an accelerated program can take as little as 14 months to complete. The coursework itself is quite comprehensive but the schools find a way to expedite the process.
A Degree Coursework Would Cover The Following Topics:
- Introduction to Physical Therapy: this is a general topic covering the history of physical therapy, the evolution of medical practices, common cases and methods of treatment, rehabilitation, etc. students are presented a broad overview of the topic.
- Orthopedics: covers different factors, conditions and diseases that result in the breakdown of the musculoskeletal system.
- Pathology: students get an in-depth study of pathology and how they would be able to assist patients suffering from conditions such as circulatory ailments, respiratory problems, musculoskeletal and gastrointestinal conditions.
- Therapy: another important area of study is therapy, and in particular the way in which therapeutic exercises can be used to enhance a patient’s performance, or combined with medication to speed up healing.
In the final three semesters students are introduced to CPR and first aid, and are taught effective ways to use both methods on a patient. In addition they are also required to go through actual practice, giving them a more “hands-on” approach to PTA.
Understanding & Using The Correct Equipment
Advanced schools will offer a variety of diagnostics tools, patient management systems, modern software to analyze specific conditions, mannequins, etc. Each student is allowed enough time with the equipment to understand and utilize its function.
Your location, finances and flexibility will determine the school you choose to attend. Consider factors such as the school’s curriculum, achievements, skill level, goals, and so on. It will help you settle on the best program for you.