All About Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in Georgia
In today’s economy, becoming a physical therapy assistant in Georgia can be an excellent career choice. Due to the growing importance of effective physical therapy in a wide variety of medical treatments, physical therapy assistants are finding themselves increasingly in demand.
When combined with the excellent salary and professional development options available for physical therapy assistants, individuals interested in a medical career will find this specialty both personally and professionally rewarding.
What is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy is the field of assisting patients to regain their physical abilities while also managing any pain they may be suffering. Physical therapy is commonly used to assist patients who are recovering from surgical procedures, have suffered a traumatic accident or who are learning how to use a prosthetic in the aftermath of the amputation of a body part.
In addition, physical therapy is increasingly used as a component of eldercare in order to assist the elderly in retaining their mobility and independence.
This is especially important for individuals who are suffering from ailments such as arthritis, which can result in a crippling loss of physical capability without assistance.
Finally, physical therapy has been found to be effective in mitigating some of the symptoms associated with various types of dementia.
The Duties of the Physical Therapy Assistant
The physical therapy assistant plays a vital role in providing effective physical therapy, working in combination with physicians, physical therapists and other medical professionals in ensuring that the patient receives an effective course of physical therapy.
In most cases, the therapist assistant will be working under the supervision of a physical therapist who will design the overall course of physical therapy for the patient. Common duties of a physical therapist assistant include the following:
- The physical therapy assistant will be closely involved in evaluating the patient and producing an effective course of physical therapy based on that evaluation. In addition, the physical therapy assistant will closely monitor the patient to ensure that the therapy is having the desired effect and will provide regular reports to the supervising physical therapist.
- The physical therapist assistant will assist his or her patients in learning how to perform the assigned physical therapy. Additionally if equipment is required, the physical therapist assistant will train the patient in how to effectively and safely use it.
- A major component of physical therapy is in assisting individuals with mobility impairments to regain their ability to function independently. In many cases, this will involve both basic physical therapy and training the patient and their caregivers in how to effectively use various types of mobility enhancement equipment.
- In-home physical therapy is becoming increasingly common, and physical therapist assistants will help individuals learn how to continue their therapy at home. Additionally, physical therapist assistants will work with family members or other caregivers in providing ongoing therapy and exercises to assist the patient.
Becoming a Georgia Physical Therapist Assistant
Georgia requires that all practicing therapist assistants have a current license issued by the Georgia Board of Physical Therapy.
Becoming licensed in Georgia requires the following steps:
- The individual must complete an accredited program for physical therapy assistants.
- He or she must then take and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).
- Georgia also requires that the candidate successfully complete a jurisprudence exam.
- In some cases, an individual who is licensed to practice in another state may be allowed to obtain a license by endorsement.
The Physical Therapy Assistant Program
Many community colleges and vocational schools offer physical therapy assistant programs. These programs are designed to train the student in the academic and practical aspects of the duties of a physical therapy assistant. In most cases, a full-time student will take approximately two years to complete these programs and graduates receive an associate’s degree.
Many programs have part-time options for those students who cannot attend on a regular schedule. In most cases, these students can attend classes on the weekends and evenings, allowing them to continue to work while obtaining their associate’s degree. Some classes may allow the students to attend online, although physical therapy programs incorporate hands-on instruction that will require the student physically attend many classes.
It is very important that the student ensure that his or her program has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). A non-accredited program cannot be used to satisfy Georgia’s educational requirement for obtaining a physical therapy assistant’s license.
The NPTE is the national exam for physical therapist assistants. This exam is a comprehensive test that evaluates the candidate’s practical and academic skills.
In Georgia, if a candidate fails the exam more than twice, he or she must submit extra material to the Board to demonstrate that the areas of deficiency have been rectified before retaking the exam. For this reason, students should ensure that they are confident in their ability to pass the exam before taking it.
The State Jurisprudence Exam
Georgia also mandates that all individuals seeking licensure take a jurisprudence exam. This examination tests the individual’s understanding of the rights and responsibilities of physical therapist assistants under Georgia law. This test can be retaken any number of times by the candidate.
Licensure by Endorsement
Finally, individuals who have been licensed in another state may seek to be licensed by endorsement. Georgia will permit this if their home state’s licensure standards are substantially equal to or greater than Georgia’s. In order to determine if any given state is eligible, the candidate should contact the Georgia Board for further information.
Becoming a physical therapist assistant in Georgia is an excellent choice for newly graduated students and older professionals alike.
As a part of a growing and respected field, the physical therapist assistant will enjoy a high degree of professional and public respect.
For those individuals who are seeking a stable career with excellent professional and salary options, the physical therapist assistant is an ideal career choice.