For those individuals interested in a career in physical therapy, California provides excellent employment and career prospects.
With a vibrant and growing healthcare sector, physical therapist assistants can find a wide variety of careers in California.
This is especially true given the increase in California’s eldercare sector, which is a major source of employment for physical therapist assistants.
The Physical Therapist Assistant
Physical therapy assistants, often known as physical therapist assistants, provide a vital service in the healthcare sector.
Working with physical therapists, they help plan, implement and evaluate physical therapy programs designed to assist individuals to effectively regain movement control, as well as to restore their former endurance and muscle strength.
The duties of the physical therapist assistant commonly include the following:
- Physical therapist assistants assist the physical therapist and other medical professionals in developing a physical therapy plan for the patient that takes the patient’s specific needs into account. After the implementation of the plan, the physical therapist assistant will also work to evaluate the progress of the patient and determine if the current physical therapy plan will require modification.
- Physical therapy assistants work to instruct the patient in how to perform any physical therapy exercises in a way that will maximize their benefit. This often includes instruction in how to effectively and safely use physical therapy equipment.
- In many cases, the physical therapy assistant will play a major role in training mobility-impaired individuals in how to safely use devices such as walkers and canes. This will also include instruction in how to safely enter and exit baths, and whether or not further safety equipment will be required. In many cases, the physical therapist assistant will also discuss these matters with in home caregivers.
- Many physical therapist assistants currently provide in-home care for mobility impaired individuals, as well as those who have been recently discharged from a hospital.
Physical Therapist Assistants and Eldercare
Many physical therapy assistants are involved in the eldercare sector. Because many of the elderly suffer from various types of dementia, in many cases physical therapy assistants will have to be skilled at working with individuals who may be confused, frightened or otherwise noncompliant.
For this reason, many physical therapy assistants who specialize in eldercare may require additional training to prepare them for the unique challenges in providing effective care to the elderly.
Becoming a Physical Therapy Assistant in California
California requires that all physical therapy assistants be licensed by the state before they will be allowed to practice. State licensure requires that the candidate have completed an accredited physical therapist assistant program as well as having successfully taken and passed the national physical therapy exam.
Additionally, California permits licensure by endorsement for those individuals who currently have a physical therapy assistant’s license in another state.
Physical Therapist Assistant Programs
Physical therapy assistant programs are usually offered by community colleges and vocational institutions. These programs require that the student be 18 years or older and have graduated from high school or have an equivalency degree. In most cases, successful graduates receive an associate’s degree.
Most physical therapy assistant programs allow students to attend on a part-time basis, in order to accommodate students who are currently working. Part-time schedules usually focus on evening and weekend classes, permitting the student to complete the program on his or her own terms. Some classes can also be taken online, although physical therapy assistant programs include a hands-on clinical aspect that cannot be obtained via online classes.
It is very important that the student verify that his or her program has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). California does not accept physical therapy assistant coursework performed at a non-accredited institution. Students wishing to verify that their school is currently in good standing should check with CAPTE before enrolling.
Physical Therapist Assistant Schools In California
The National Exam
After completion of the physical therapy assistant program, the student must take and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE). This is a comprehensive exam that verifies the student’s professional and academic skills. A student is only permitted to take the NPTE three times in any given year and must pay the test fee for each test date. For this reason, a candidate should only take the test once he or she is confident of passing it.
The California Law Exam
Finally, the Physical Therapy Board of California requires that all candidates take the California Law Exam (CLE).
This exam is designed to evaluate the candidate’s understanding of the rights and responsibilities of the physical therapy assistant under California law. Unlike the NPTE, there is no limitation on how many times the candidate may repeat the test.
Licensure by Endorsement
An individual who is currently licensed to practice as a physical therapy assistant in another state may be licensed by endorsement. This allows the individual to simply take the CLE and register as a California physical therapy assistant. However, the individual must obtain a California license in order to practice in the state, regardless of his or her status in another state.
Physical Therapist Assistants and the Job Market
Currently, the physical therapy sector is growing at a sustained and rapid pace. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the current rate of growth in physical therapy assistant careers will see the number of available jobs increase by 45 percent until 2020.
Furthermore, this profession benefits from extremely competitive salary levels when compared to similar professions.
Becoming a physical therapy assistant allows an individual to enter a well-compensated and respected field. With the increasing important of physical therapy to the well-being of America’s citizens, this field will only continue to grow in size and importance. For these reasons, becoming a physical therapy assistant can be an excellent career choice.