What a PTA Program is Like – A Day In The Life Of A PTA Studen – Get The Inside Story.
Physical therapy has become an ever more important component of any full-spectrum course of medical treatment.
Whether it is to assist individuals in recovering from a long-term illness or traumatic injury or to help elderly individuals retain their independence, the demand for skilled physical therapist assistants (PTAs) is greater than ever before.
Because of this, many individuals are choosing to enter a PTA program in order to obtain licensure in this field. While many are newly graduated individuals seeking to enter the job market for the first time, a growing number are individuals who desire to transition from a low paying job to a secure and well-compensated career as a PTA.
Most schools that offer a program to become a PTA are community colleges, vocational schools or adult education programs.
PTA programs are offered by both public and private institutions and the programs are often tailored for individuals who cannot attend regularly scheduled classes due to work or other demands on their time.
PTA Programs and Accreditation
Most domestic PTA programs must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).
In some cases, a state may also have its own criterion for accreditation, but CAPTE accreditation is accepted nation wide. It is important to ensure that a school is in good standing with the CAPTE, as many states will refuse to accept class work performed at a non-accredited institution.
Foreign schools are not accredited by the CAPTE, but they must demonstrate substantial equality to the education offered by an accredited school.
Students who have completed their PTA program at a foreign school must provide their transcripts and other information to the state licensure agency for evaluation. This process can take some time, so a foreign student should provide this information as quickly as possible.
Attending a PTA Program
Because there are a wide range of PTA program styles, a student will often find that his or her PTA program may differ from those offered by other schools.
However, most PTA programs will include the following components.
Students will take classes on biology, physiology and medical terminology so that they can effectively work as PTAs. Theses courses will include in depth study of the human body, especially its bone structure and musculature.
Usually, these classes will involve a combination of lecture and homework and the students will be required to take a variety of tests in order to demonstrate their mastery of the material.
In addition to academic classes, most PTA programs will include clinical instruction, either as a laboratory component of a regular class or as a class in and of itself.
These classes will often involve physical demonstrations of various types of physical therapy techniques. The students will then work with each other to practice how to carry out the therapy.
These classes are very important, as most physical therapy requires a degree of manual skill and direct experience to effectively treat the PTAs patients.
In some cases, the school may have an agreement with a local hospital or other facility that allows its students to be trained in a working medical facility.
They may observe licensed PTAs provide treatment, interact with other medical professionals and carry out various tasks that will be a part of their duties once they have become licensed PTAs.
This type of instruction is also dependent on the local state regulations regarding what type of treatment students may carry out while under the supervision of their instructors.
In some cases, students may not be able to provide any physical assistance, while in other cases, the state my permit them to assist licensed PTAs as a part of their education.
In general, a student attending a PTA program on a full-time basis can expect to graduate in about two years, depending on his or her school’s schedule.
This usually requires that the student take 12 to 15 units of class work per semester. When added to the required readings and homework this can easily amount to about 40 hours of work every week, depending on the student’s skills.
However, many students are currently working, caring for family members or otherwise unable to attend school on a full-time basis. Many schools understand this and provide part-time schedules for those students.
In addition, these schools have flexible scheduling options, in order to allow their students to attend classes on the weekend or during the evening.
This can be especially useful for a student who is currently employed on a full-time basis. While part-time students will take somewhat longer to complete the program, the extra time can drastically improve the student’s ability to effectively complete his or her classes and graduate with a high grade point average (GPA).See these tips for PTA students.
Online and Distance Learning Programs
In addition to traditional classes, a growing number of PTA programs are incorporating distance and online learning technologies into their programs.
This allows students to attend some classes online rather than forcing them to be physically present. These students can view lectures, download course materials and even directly communicate with the instructors via email and chat.
The primary advantage of online PTA programs is that the student has nearly total control over his or her schedule.
In addition, by eliminating the need for the student to travel to school, distance-learning programs can drastically reduce the cost of a PTA program. However, not all classes can be taken in this manner. Lab courses and some tests will still demand the student’s physical presence at the school.
Upon completing the program, the student will receive an associate’s degree that makes him or her qualified to take the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE), as well as the other steps required to obtain a state PTA license. Once that is completed, the licensed PTA can start working in his or her state.
A PTA program can be an excellent choice for a student seeking to enter a field that has excellent advancement and salary prospects.
Due to the continuing growth in the healthcare sector, available PTA job openings will increase for the foreseeable future. For these reasons, PTA programs are likely to see sustained growth in the number of students seeking to enter them.