All About Working as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Hawaii
Hawaii is a major part of the United States with a booming tourist trade, growing population and dynamic economy. Additionally, the state’s healthcare sector is currently experiencing robust and sustained growth.
Due to this, Hawaii currently needs more physical therapy assistants (PTAs) in order to fulfill the healthcare needs of the state’s citizens.
What is a Physical Therapist Assistant?
A PTA is a licensed medical professional who, in cooperation with physicians, physical therapists and other medical practitioners, develops and implements a plan of physical therapy to assist his or her patients.
In most cases, every patient receives an individualized course of therapy in order to provide the best possible outcome.
Among the most common duties PTAs carry out are the following:
- Working with fellow medical professionals to develop and evaluate physical therapy plans.
- Providing detailed reports to the case supervisor on the patient’s progress.
- Training patients in how to safely and effectively carry out physical therapy exercises.
- Training caregivers on how best to assist patients in conducting any at-home exercises in a safe and effective manner. This can be especially important for the families of elderly or mentally impaired patients.
- Help educate caregivers and patients in how to effectively and safely use mobility assistance devices such as walkers and canes.
Where PTAs Work
Most PTAs work in ambulatory care facilities, usually assisting individuals who come into the facility on an outpatient basis.
These facilities serve a wide range of needs, ranging from individuals who are recovering from surgery or a traumatic accident to elderly patients who are receiving physical therapy in order to stave off the degenerative effects of age related conditions.
Additionally, private and public hospitals employ a large number of physical therapist assistants. In most cases, these PTAs work with patients during their hospital stay, helping to minimize the physical impact of their illness or injury. PTAs who work at a hospital may have other duties relating to the care of their patients, depending on their training level and the hospital’s policies.
Another common source of employment for PTAs is convalescent and eldercare facilities. In many cases, PTAs will work with other medical professionals in order to help elderly and disabled individuals retain as much independence as possible.
PTAs working in these settings often find themselves assisting individuals who are suffering from cognitive disorders such as dementia, and so much maintain a professional and patient attitude at all times.
Working as a PTA in Hawaii
Hawaii is currently the only state that does not require licensure to practice as a PTA. However, individuals seeking employment as a PTA should still consider obtaining a high quality education in order to enhance their employment options.
In most cases, employers will demand evidence that any PTAs seeking employment are both dependable and highly skilled in the field of physical therapy making a formal education very useful.
In addition, for those individuals who may at some point seek to become a PTA in another state, a quality education may assist them in qualifying for a license without being forced to repeat the entire educational process.
It is important to note that when evaluating an out of state candidate’s ability to obtain a license in the new state, most state licensing boards will attempt to determine if the candidate’s educational qualifications are substantial equal to the state’s current requirements for licensure.
Physical Therapist Assistant Programs
Most physical therapy assistant programs are offered by community colleges, although vocational educational centers may also provide training in this field.
Usually, a full-time student will take about two years to complete a program, although part-time students may take somewhat longer. Upon completing the program, most schools award an associate’s degree or certificate of completion.
An individual interested in becoming a PTA should only attend a program that has been accredited by a qualified agency.
In most cases, PTA programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), which ensures that all accredited programs adhere to the highest educational and professional standards.
Because Hawaii does not have any licensure requirements for employment, it is possible for an individual wishing to enter this career to have some difficulty gaining the qualifications they feel they need in order to secure adequate employment.
However, many schools offer internships for some students, which allow the individual to work in a physical therapy facility under the guidance of practicing medical personnel.
In addition to allowing the individual to obtain practical experience, internships can also help establish the personal and professional connections that can assist the individual in securing later employment.
The National Physical Therapy Examination
The National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) is the standard national examination for PTAs. By passing the NPTE, a Hawaii PTA can be assured that he or she will be seen as a qualified PTA by employers and patients alike. This can be especially important for individuals who may later decide to move to another state, as all other states require a passing score on the NPTE for licensure.
Ultimately, becoming a PTA in Hawaii can be an excellent path to a personally and professionally rewarding career. The growing need for PTAs makes this an ideal career choice for newly graduated adults and older individuals seeking to change employment alike.