Becoming a licensed physical therapist assistant can be an excellent career decision for those who are interested in entering the healthcare sector.
With robust growth and salary prospects, this field is becoming increasingly attractive to individuals seeking a professionally and personally rewarding medical career.
The Duties of the Physical Therapist Assistant
Physical therapy assistants work with the supervising physician, physical therapist and other medical professionals in order to implement an effective course of physical therapy for their patients. In most cases, the medical team develops an individualized course of therapy for each patient, in order to effectively address their unique needs.
The common duties of the physical therapist assistant include the following:
- Helping to plan and implement a course of physical therapy.
- Assisting their patient in carrying out the physical therapy, including providing them with instructions and physical assistance.
- Evaluating the patient’s progress and providing detailed reports for the physical therapist and other medical professionals. This can be especially important when determining if the physical therapy must be modified to better suit the patient’s needs.
- Training the patient how to safely use mobility aids such as walkers and wheelchairs.
- Providing training and assistance to caregivers who are working with the patient after he or she is discharged.
- For individuals who have suffered the loss of a limb, the physical therapist assistant will help train them in how to effectively use a prosthetic replacement.
Working With the Elderly
As a growing segment of the American population, the elderly are increasingly requiring various types of physical therapy.
In this case, the physical therapist assistant must work with individuals who may be suffering from dementia. This demands therapist assistants who can work with patients who are sometimes difficult or frightened while still maintaining a professional and caring manner.
Where Physical Therapist Assistants Work
Physical therapist assistants work in a ride range of surroundings. Currently, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) physical therapy assistants are most commonly employed by ambulatory health care services.
These are clinics and offices serving clients on an outpatient basis. In many cases, these types of patients are receiving long-term rehabilitative care in order to recover from injuries or medical procedures. In other cases, ambulatory patients may be receiving therapy for chronic illnesses or medical conditions.
Other physical therapy assistants work in hospitals, long-term rehabilitation and convalescent hospitals and help provide in-home care to patients who cannot easily travel.
In many cases, these assistants work to assist individuals to recover to the point where they can regain their physical capabilities. In other cases, such as when working with the elderly, the care is focused on slowing or stopping the progress of degenerative conditions.
Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in Kansas
Like all states, Kansas requires that any practicing physical therapist assistant be licensed by the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts (KSBHA). As a part of obtaining a license from the KSBHA, the candidate must complete the following steps:
- Successfully complete an accredited physical therapy assistant program.
- Take and pass the National Physical Therapist Examination (NPTE).
- Complete the KSBHA application process.
Physical Therapy Assistant Programs
There are a wide variety of physical therapy assistant programs available from community colleges and vocational schools.
These programs normally take approximately two years for a full time student to complete them. Upon successfully completing the program, the student receives an associate’s degree in physical therapy.
These programs cover all aspects of the physical therapy assistant’s duties, ranging from hands on training in how best to perform physical therapy on the patient to academic classes focusing on the proper way to produce informative and readable reports for the therapist’s superiors.
In some cases, the school may include a clinical training component where the students will work with actual patients under the supervision of medical professionals.
Physical Therapist Assistant Schools In Kansas
Most schools allow students to attend on a part-time basis. This can be especially useful for students who are currently working or are otherwise unable to attend the school as full-time students. Some classes may be offered as online classes, allowing the student to work on them from home. However, many classes in a physical therapy assistant program will require that the students attend in person.
It is extremely important that the student ensure that his or her school is currently accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Kansas will generally not accept courses taken at a non-accredited school, quite possibly forcing a candidate to repeat his or her education in order to obtain licensure.
For this reason, the student should check with the CAPTE in order to ensure that his or her program is currently in good standing.
The NPTE is a comprehensive examination that all physical therapy assistants must pass in order to obtain licensure in Kansas. This exam evaluates the candidate’s practical and academic qualifications. Although Kansas permits individuals to retake the NPTE if they fail, some states put limits on how many times the NPTE may be retaken before barring the candidate from obtaining licensure. Because of this, the student should make certain to only take the NPTE when he or she is confident of passing it.
Finally, the student must complete the application form, including proof of his or her graduation and transmitting the NPTE scores to the KSBHA. The candidate must also take a jurisprudence examination in order to demonstrate his or her understanding of how Kansas law interacts with the field of physical therapy.
Becoming a physical therapist assistant in Kansas can be an excellent professional and personal move. Those who do so will find themselves part of an expanding and highly respected profession.