Choosing A Physical Therapist Assistant School -Physical Therapist Assistant Career Guide

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Choosing A Physical Therapist Assistant School

For those who are entertaining a new career move to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA), completing a degree in this field is crucial to legally practicing as a PTA.

In order to find an accredited college or institution, aspiring PTAs need to perform the necessary research to discover the right accredited physical therapy assistant program tailored to their educational standards, requiring them to review the courses and trainings offered by accredited schools.

Accredited PTA Colleges

work and hobbiesAspiring PTAs need to attend a college or university that has been accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

As a leading authority in the physical therapy field, the APTA boasts over 77,000 members and maintains high standards for PTA schools, ensuring that students achieve the highest educational levels.

The APTA enables aspiring physical therapy assistants to obtain the necessary skills to be successful in the healthcare industry, allowing them to apply for positions in a hospital, clinic, physical therapy office, elder-care home, and other healthcare offices.

Many online colleges and private schools provide PTA programs that have obtained accreditation through the APTA, and earning an associate’s degree requires two years of curriculum and clinical experience. Degree coursework entails learning about topics, such as:

  • Introduction to Physical Therapy: A fundamental subject based on the history of physical therapy, Introduction to Physical Therapy discusses this profession’s current practices and developments. Students can learn about the effects of injuries and rehabilitation methods.
  • Pathology: Aspiring PTAs obtain a thorough knowledge in human pathology in this course, learning about ways to help heal patients’ respiratory, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, and circulatory ailments.
  • Orthopedics: Aiding students with understanding the injuries and diseases that affect patients’ musculoskeletal systems, Orthopedics instructs students on recognizing symptoms and developing treatment plans for patients.
  • Therapeutic Exercise: PTA students learn to properly develop exercise programs and monitor patients’ performance. This course covers topics like injury prevention, performance maintenance, and conditioning.

In the last three semesters of the PTA program, students will be required to take courses in CPR and first aid, and taking a class on therapeutic exercises is essential to learning how to properly improve a patient’s muscle condition and body movement.

On top of classroom instruction, students are required to undertake clinical practice, which is essential to understanding this field. Some PTAs enjoy the theory behind physical therapy, while others prefer the clinical practice.

Physical therapist assistant programs allow students to choose between a “hands on” approach to work with patients directly and various research opportunities to improve PTA procedures and policies.

Researching Potential PTA Institutions

Every PTA program has strengths and weaknesses, making it crucial for physical therapy assistants to weigh their options carefully before choosing a college.

When researching potential PTA schools, aspiring physical therapy assistants need to earn their education at an accredited college, institution, or university, basing their choice on the following factors:

  • Location: Choosing a top-rated PTA college is not always the best decision, especially if the location is thousands of miles away. Individuals should find an affordable institution that is accredited and near their hometown, making it easier to finish their schooling.
  • Flexibility: For those who are working their way through college, finding an institution that will work around their hectic schedule is crucial to completing the program on time. Aspiring PTAs should ask school representatives about weekend and night classes, providing students with flexibility in class attendance.
  • Finances: Students who are unable to afford an expensive college or PTA certification program can seek the help of a grant or scholarship to help pay off their college expenses.
  • Curriculum: Aspiring physical therapy assistants need to review the curriculum and school’s experience to ensure a highly qualified program.
  • Licensure: Gauging the PTA institution’s effectiveness with preparing students to pass the NPTE licensure exam will inform aspiring assistants about the thoroughness of the clinical and in-class instruction.

Understanding the institution’s treatment techniques is crucial to choosing the right PTA program, providing students with an advantage when seeking employment upon graduation.

Among the advantageous treatment techniques that can be learned at an accredited college, courses in hydrotherapy and ultrasound will help students obtain employment in a healthcare sector where they can have the greatest impact.

Even though most students earn their associate’s degree in PTA, some go on to obtain a bachelor’s degree and extensive clinical experience, preparing them for various employment opportunities in the healthcare industry.

Considering Distance Learning

Some students who wish to become physical therapist assistants often need to work while going to college. For this reason, students may need to earn their degree through a distance learning program, taking classes part-time while working. Part-time scheduling allows students to work on their own time to understand the coursework.

PTA Training Pre-requisites

Before enrolling in any college or university, individuals who desire to become physical therapy assistants need to fulfill certain pre-requisites, such as obtaining a high school diploma. High school students who are contemplating a career as a PTA have several ways to prepare for this exciting career.

Pre-requisite coursework that will greatly assist in preparing students for the successful completion of an accredited PTA program include:

  • Biology
  • Math
  • Health
  • Computer
  • English and writing
  • Second language

Many healthcare institutions are hiring PTAs who are bilingual, which is why learning a second language, such as Spanish or French, increases one’s chances of finding employment quickly. One way to ensure enrollment in a professional college and to increase one’s chances of obtaining a grant or scholarship is to graduate with a higher grade point (GPA).

Most physical therapist assistant programs hold competitive admission standards, which require a high GPA to gain entry into the PTA program. Students should also undergo various state academic evaluation tests, which are taken into account during the admissions evaluation.

Excelling on these exams will increase students’ chances of being admitted into the college of their choice.

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