Becoming a Vermont PTA
With a dynamic mixture of rural, urban and suburban regions and a growing economy, Vermont is a state that is currently experiencing a growing demand for healthcare services of all types.
Because of this, there is an increasingly favorable job market for physical therapist assistants in the state, making this field an excellent choice for individuals seeking to enter a well-compensated and secure profession.
Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in Vermont
Like most states, Vermont requires that a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) be licensed by the state.
The Vermont Office of Professional Regulation has established the following requirements for licensure as a PTA:
- Completion of an accredited PTA program.
- Successfully passing the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).
- Completing the state application process and paying all applicable fees.
- Individuals who are currently licensed in another state may apply for licensure by endorsement.
Physical Therapist Assistant Programs
Many accredited institutions offer PTA programs, ranging from community colleges to vocational education schools.
These programs usually take about two years to complete, and provide the successful graduate with the academic and practical knowledge needed to work as a PTA.
In most cases, the student will obtain an associate’s degree or certification of graduation upon completing the program.
In addition to full-time students, many schools also have part-time programs for those students who cannot attend classes on a traditional schedule due to work or other commitments.
Some courses may also be offered online, allowing the students to complete them without having to physically attend the class sessions. However, some classes may require their students to physically attend lab, clinical sessions or examinations.
It is extremely important that students only enter programs that are currently accredited by and in good standing with the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).
A student attending a school that is not accredited with the CAPTE may find that his or her educational qualifications will not be accepted by Vermont. Students who have completed a foreign program will have to provide proof that their program is substantially equal to an accredited program.
This process may take some time, so it is important to immediately contact the Vermont Office of Professional Regulation in order to ensure that the evaluation of the student’s program will be finished as quickly as possible.
The NPTE is a comprehensive physical therapy examination that is designed to evaluate the professional and academic qualifications of individuals who are seeking licensure as PTAs.
In Vermont, a student may attempt the NPTE twice, but if he or she needs to repeat the test a third time, remedial coursework will be required in order to rectify the deficiencies in the student’s skills that resulted in the initial test failures.
It is important to note that failing the test even once will result in substantial delays in licensure, so a candidate should only take the test when he or she is confident of passing it.
Licensure by Endorsement
Currently, all states but Hawaii require licensure for PTAs. Hawaii will start licensing PTAs in 2014, making licensure mandatory in every state and Puerto Rico.
Individuals who are licensed in another state may apply for Vermont licensure by endorsement.
In order to obtain licensure by endorsement, the PTA must be able to provide proof of education and licensure in every state where they have held or currently hold a license. Upon approval of this information, the individual may obtain a permanent license by endorsement.
In addition, individuals seeking licensure by endorsement may obtain a temporary license.
This license is only valid while the state is verifying or processing a request for licensure by endorsement, and requires a copy of the license the individual currently holds in the state where he or she was practicing.
It is important to note that only individuals holding a valid license or temporary license can practice in Vermont, even if they are currently licensed in another state.
The Job Environment and PTAs
Currently, PTAs are enjoying very favorable job options. The Bureau of Labor Statistics currently estimates that there are over 67,000 PTAs in the United States.
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That number is expected to increase by at least 46 percent by 2020.
When combined with attrition from retirements and other factors, this growth will result in a wide number of job openings for new and currently licensed PTAs alike.
Vermont currently employees at least 140 licensed PTAs and this field is experiencing similar job growth to that found in other states.
In addition, the annual mean salary of Vermont PTAs was nearly $49,000 in 2011, which is very competitive with other healthcare careers that require a similar level of education.
The Duties of PTAs
PTAs focus on providing physical therapy for their patients, under the supervision of physical therapists, physicians and other medical professionals.
The most common duties of a PTA include the following:
- The PTA will train and physically assist patients in carrying out various types of physical therapies.
- The PTA will provide regular reports to the supervising medical professionals in order to assist in the process of evaluating the therapy’s progress.
- In some cases, the PTA will help educate family members and home caregivers in how to assist the patient in carrying out any home based physical therapy.
Ultimately, becoming a PTA can allow an individual to enter a well-compensated, personally rewarding and publicly respected field.
Many PTAs establish close and rewarding relationships with their patients and coworkers alike. Because of these facts, becoming a PTA can be an excellent choice for those individuals who are currently interested in a healthcare career.