The field of physical therapy is becoming increasingly important in the modern healthcare sector.
Whether it is providing therapy for individuals who have been seriously injured or working to stave off the effects of old age or degenerative illnesses, physical therapy has become a vital part of any comprehensive plan of medical care.
Because of this, physical therapist assistants (PTAs) are becoming an increasingly important part of the healthcare sector.
Physical Therapist Assistants and the Job Market
The job market for physical therapists is showing sustained and rapid growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) determined that there were over 114,000 PTAs and physical therapist aides in the United States.
There are currently at least 67,000 PTAs who are licensed and working in the United States, and that number is expected to increase by at least 30,000 by 2020.
In addition, PTAs currently enjoy very promising salary options. Their median salary is nearly $50,000, and when coupled with the job security PTAs enjoy, this makes becoming a PTA a very attractive option for someone seeking long-term and secure employment.
Types of Careers Available to PTAs
PTAs enjoy a wide range of career options, ranging from working as a PTA in an outpatient clinic to providing post-operative assistance to patients at a major hospital.
- Ambulatory care clinics that provide therapy on an outpatient basis.
- Private and public hospitals.
- Working as PTA in a doctor’s office. These PTAs may also have other duties, depending on the exact nature of their employment.
- Providing care to individuals in eldercare and convalescent care facilities.
In most cases, these careers do not demand a great deal of unscheduled overtime, although they may involve a regular schedule that includes weekends and evening hours.
Additionally, because PTAs seldom provide emergency medical care, they will generally be able to work with their superiors and coworkers in order to plan a detailed therapy plan.
Becoming a PTA in Idaho
Like most states, Idaho requires that all practicing PTAs be licensed by the state. In Idaho, the Physical Therapy Licensure Board handles the licensure of PTAs and has the following licensure requirements:
• Graduation from an accredited physical therapy assistant program.
• Successfully completing the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).
• At least two professional references.
• Completing an open book jurisprudence test.
Completing a Physical Therapy Assistant Program
Most physical therapy assistant programs take approximately two years for a full-time student to complete. These programs are offered by community colleges, adult education centers and vocational schools.
In addition, many institutions allow students to attend on a part-time basis. While this will increase the amount of time it takes to complete the program, it can provide needed flexibility for students who are currently working or who otherwise cannot attend the program on a full-time basis.
Many programs offer online and distance learning options, which can allow the student to complete a wide range of classes from home.
In some cases, a program might require physical attendance for classes that include a lab component while purely academic classes can be taken online.
Finally, it is very important that the program be accredited. Idaho requires that any program used for the purpose of qualifying for a state license be accredited by a professional agency.
In most cases, a school will be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). The student should make certain to verify that the school is currently in good standing with whatever accrediting authority that evaluates it, and that the accreditation body is recognized by Idaho.
Individuals who have received their education at a foreign institution must be able to demonstrate that their program complies with the standards set forth for an accredited program before their educational credentials will be accepted.
Because evaluating foreign programs can be a lengthy process, any candidates who have been educated outside of the United States should submit their information as early as possible.
Taking the NPTE
The NPTE is the nationally recognized examination for PTAs and as such passing this test is a requirement for anyone intending on working as a PTA in Idaho.
The NPTE evaluates both the academic and practical skills of the examinee and because of this, it is important to be fully conversant with all aspects of a PTA’s duties before attempting to pass the test.
While Idaho does not limit the number of times the test can be retaken, retaking the test will result in a delay in licensure.
Ultimately, becoming a licensed PTA in Idaho can be the gateway to a secure, financially rewarding and high-prestige career. A licensed PTA will be able to work with a wide range of individuals and have excellent employment options in a variety of subfields.
Because of this, becoming a PTA can be an excellent choice for those individuals who not only wish to have a secure career, but who also desire the ability to control where and in what subfield they work.