A guide to becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in Connecticut. What you need to know is here.
Physical therapy is becoming an increasingly important part of America’s healthcare system.
Whether it is to assist patients in recovering from a traumatic injury or to help elderly and ill individuals resist the effects of age and degenerative diseases alike, physical therapists and physical therapy assistants form a vital part of any complete system of healthcare.
Job Options for Physical Therapist Assistants
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were over 114,000 physical therapist assistants (PTAs) who were employed in 2010, and by 2020, that number would increase by at least 45 percent, adding over 51,000 job openings to the field.
When combined with attrition among already employed PTAs due to retirement and other factors, this indicates that PTAs will continue to enjoy very favorable job options for the foreseeable future.
This is especially true in Connecticut, with its dynamic mixture of rural, urban and suburban zones coupled with a diverse and growing population. In fact, the BLS currently estimates that about 480 PTAs are currently working in Connecticut.
Furthermore, the median annual wage for PTAs in Connecticut is well over $57,000, which compares favorably to the national median wage of over $49,000.
Becoming a PTA in Connecticut
In Connecticut, all PTAs must be licensed by the Department of Public Health. The primary requirements in order to obtain a license include completing an accredited physical therapist assistant program and successfully completing the National Physical Therapist Assistant Examination (NPTAE). In some states, this test is referred to as the NPTE.
Physical Therapist Assistant Programs
Programs for PTAs are offered by a wide variety of organizations, including vocational schools, adult education centers and community colleges. In most cases, a full-time student will take approximately two years to complete the program, and upon graduation will receive an associate’s degree.
Most programs offer part-time schedules for those students who must work or who otherwise cannot attend school as a full-time student. In many cases, part-time students can attend school in the evening or on the weekend, making it easier for them to complete the program without being forced to abandon their current employment. This is especially beneficial for older individuals who are attempting to transition to a new career.
Connecticut PTA Schools and Programs
Connecticut will usually only accept coursework from a program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). The CAPTE evaluates all programs in order to ensure that they conform to modern standards of educational and professional excellence.
Foreign programs are not accredited by the CAPTE and any graduates of a foreign program must provide the Connecticut licensing agency with evidence that the program is equivalent to an accredited program in the United States.
The NPTAE is a comprehensive exam that evaluates the candidate’s academic and practical skills in the field of physical therapy. In order to pass the NPTAE the student must score at least 600 points on a scale of from 200 to 800 points.
Although Connecticut permits an unlimited number of repeat attempts to pass the NPTAE, the candidate must pay the registration fee every time.
In addition, having to repeat the NPTAE will severely delay the individual’s licensure. For this reason, students should only take the NPTAE when they are confident of passing the examination.
Licensure by Endorsement
The requirements for licensure are the same for those individuals who have been licensed in other states, with the single exception that they must notify Connecticut of all other states where licensed to work as a PTA.
However, this will not allow an individual to bypass Connecticut’s requirements for licensure due to their possession of a license in another state.
Types of PTA Jobs
Most PTA job openings are found in outpatient clinics serving ambulatory individuals. These clinics provide a variety of services, ranging from assisting the victims of major accidents to recover from their injuries to working with sports related injuries.
PTAs are also commonly employed by private and public hospitals, providing rehabilitation services to individuals who are recovering from surgery or other medical procedures. In most cases, hospital PTAs may find that they are working with individuals who require a greater degree of care.
Additionally, hospital PTAs often work closely with other medical professionals in order to provide the best possible care. PTAs working in a hospital setting are more likely to face unscheduled overtime than PTAs working in other settings.
Finally, the rising number of elderly individuals has resulted in a growing need for PTAs in convalescent homes.
PTAs working with the elderly focus on maintaining general physical fitness both to assist their patients in remaining independent and to stave off age-related degenerative conditions. In many cases, the PTAs patients may suffer from cognitive disorders, requiring a professional and patient attitude.
Becoming a PTA can be an excellent choice for individuals seeking a well-compensated and publicly respected career. The growing need for skilled PTAs ensures that this field will continue to offer abundant career opportunities for new and experienced PTAs alike. For this reason, anyone interested in a career in the Connecticut healthcare sector should consider becoming a PTA.