Physical Therapist Assistants in Indiana: Job and Educational Prospects
Becoming a physical therapy assistant in Indiana can be an excellent decision for those wishing to enter into a professionally and personally rewarding career as a healthcare professional.
Today, physical therapy is a vital component of many medical treatment plans, in addition to playing a major role in elective fields such as sports medicine.
Career Prospects for Physical Therapist Assistants
Currently, physical therapist assistants are enjoying extremely promising career prospects, with a rapidly expanding number of open employment slots. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) currently estimates that the number of available physical therapist assistant jobs will increase by at least 46 percent between 2010 and 2020, adding over 51,000 physical therapy assistant job openings.
In addition, a number of currently filled positions will become available due to the retirement of current workers and other sources of attrition. These two factors combine to ensure that qualified physical therapy assistants will continue to be a part of a dynamic and expanding field.
In Indiana, there are currently nearly 2,000 employed physical therapy assistants, earning a median annual wage of nearly $53,000. This compares very favorably with the national mean annual wage of just over $51,000.
In addition, Indiana’s mixture of rural and urban populations ensures that there will continue to be a wide variety of job openings for new physical therapist assistants.
Currently physical therapy assistant careers can be found in the following areas:
- Physical therapy assistants are very important in public and private hospitals, where they assist the medical team in administering rehabilitative care to patients recovering from illness or injury.
- In-home and outpatient physical therapy is becoming increasingly common, especially for individuals suffering from chronic disorders.
- Convalescent homes are a major employer of physical therapist assistants who assist the elderly to engage in exercises designed to maintain their independence for as long as possible.
- Sports medicine is also becoming a source of employment for physical therapy assistants in order to help professional and amateur athletes to recover from sports-related injuries.
Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in Indiana
The Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (IPLA) requires that all physical therapist assistants be licensed in order to practice in the state. Obtaining a license generally requires the following steps.
- Complete an accredited program for physical therapy assistants.
- Successfully complete the national physical therapy assistant examination.
- Submit to a background check.
- In some cases, an individual who has been licensed in another state may obtain licensure by endorsement, rather than having to repeat the examination and educational requirements.
Physical Therapist Assistant Programs
Physical therapy assistant programs are usually offered by community colleges or vocational learning centers. These programs take two years for a full-time student to complete and confer an associate’s degree upon graduation. Many programs also offer part-time schedules for those students who are working or otherwise unable to attend school on a full-time basis.
These programs provide an extensive education in the academic and practical aspects of providing physical therapy to the patient. Physical therapy assistant programs also train the students in how to effectively work with physicians, physical therapists and other medical professionals to provide the best possible care to the patient.
In many cases, a physical therapy assistant program may include clinical work, where the student treats actual patients under the direct supervision of a licensed physical therapist or other medical professional.
Physical Therapist Assistant Schools In Indiana
The Importance of Accreditation
Indiana only accepts programs that have been offered by institutions that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Because of this, the student should ensure that his or her program is currently in good standing with the CAPTE. This information can be obtained either from the school administration or directly from the CAPTE.
The National Examination
After completing a physical therapist assistant program, the student must then pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for physical therapist assistants. This is a comprehensive examination that will evaluate the student’s qualifications to practice as a physical therapist assistant.
Although Indiana allows the student to retake the test if he or she should fail to pass, this will require the payment of additional fees and can delay the licensing process. For this reason, the student should only take the NPTE when he or she is prepared to pass the examination.
Becoming a physical therapy assistant can be the gateway to a personally and professionally rewarding career. With the continued growth in physical therapist assistant job openings, this field will continue to see a robust and growing demand for qualified professionals beyond 2020.
In addition, due to the growing number of the elderly in America, it is likely that the long-term prospects for employment will remain extremely favorable, and wages will continue to be competitive when compared to other professional fields.
Physical therapist assistants provide a vital service in the healthcare sector. In partnership with physicians and physical therapists, the physical therapist assistant can look forward to a career that is respected by the healthcare sector and public alike. For these reasons, becoming a physical therapist assistant can be an excellent decision for those seeking their first professional job.