Becoming a Maine PTA As a state with a wide range of urban and rural communities and a growing elderly population, Maine has become an increasingly attractive region for those individuals intending to become physical therapy assistants (PTAs).
Because of this, a growing number of schools are offering accredited PTA programs in order to help their students obtain licensure in Maine.
PTAs and the Job Market
A PTA provides a variety of services in cooperation with his or her fellow medical professionals and supervisors. Most PTAs work in ambulatory care clinics where they provide their services on an outpatient basis.
However, many PTAs are employed by hospitals, rehabilitation and convalescent care centers and in home healthcare providers. Because of this, a PTA has a wide range of potential job types and locations, many with excellent professional advancement prospects.
Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that there are over 69,000 PTAs currently employed in the United States. That number is expected to increase to over 46 percent by 2020. When combined with employee attrition due to retirement and other factors, this shows that Maine PTAs will be enjoying job opportunities for the foreseeable future.
Furthermore, PTAs enjoy a competitive salary compared to other fields with similar educational and licensing requirements. In Maine, the mean salary for a PTA is over $56,000, with many jobs earning considerably more.
Becoming a PTA in Maine
In Maine, licensing for PTAs is handled by the Office of Professional and Occupational Licensing. In order to become a licensed PTA in Maine, the candidate must fulfill the following requirements:
- Complete a course of study at an accredited school.
- Successfully take and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).
- Pay the required application fee and submit a completed application form.
A PTA program provides the student with academic and hands on training in the field of physical therapy. Depending on the school, this may include intern or externships where the student will work directly with actual patients while being supervised by trained and licensed instructors.
In most cases, a full-time student will take about two years to complete a PTA program. However, many schools also offer part-time and online educational options for those students who cannot attend the program on a traditional schedule.
This can be very helpful for those students who are currently working or who have other obligations during the day. However part-time students will usually take longer to complete the program than their full-time classmates will.
It is extremely important to verify that the program is currently accredited by a state-recognized agency. In most cases, that means that a PTA program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), which handles the accreditation of physical therapy programs in the United States.
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Foreign programs are not accredited by the CAPTE and students who have graduated from them must provide evidence that they are substantially equal to an accredited program.
This process can take some time, and so graduates from foreign programs should submit their information as early as possible in order to avoid delays in the licensure process.
The NPTE is the national examination for PTAs, providing a comprehensive evaluation of their qualifications to practice in this field. This test is regularly updated by healthcare professionals in order to ensure that it reflects the current state of the field of physical therapy.
Although it is possible to retake the test if the student fails it, this will result in substantial delays in the licensure process. For that reason, a student should only sign up for the test when he or she is confident of being able to pass it.
Where Do PTAs Work?
Currently, most PTAs work in ambulatory care clinics, where the majority of the patients come in for regular physical therapy sessions.
Other PTAs work in rehabilitation facilities, convalescent care centers and hospitals where they provide a range of services to their patients.
In most cases, PTAs are not required to endure a large amount of overtime or unscheduled work hours. This makes this field an excellent one for individuals who have families or who otherwise require a stable job schedule.
What do PTAs Do?
Most PTAs provide physical therapy in cooperation with their supervisors, who are usually physical therapists or physicians with a specialization in physical therapy.
They will work closely with these individuals, both in providing the physical therapy to their patients and in reporting the results to the supervising healthcare professionals, who will use that information to help determine if the physical therapy program requires modification.
When working with patients, PTAs will usually perform the following specific functions:
- Help the patient perform the required physical therapy. For injured or elderly patients, this will often require that the PTA physically assist them over the course of the therapy session.
- Use physical therapy tools, including hot water baths, exercise machines and other devices in order to assist the patient in meeting his or her physical therapy goals.
- Write accurate reports on the patient’s progress in addition to any other events or symptoms that should be brought to the attention of the supervising physician.
- For patients with mobility issues, the PTA will help train them in how to effectively use canes and other mobility enhancement tools.
- Help educate home caregivers in how to assist the patient in safely moving around the home.
Ultimately, the PTA provides a vital service to America’s healthcare sector. Without PTAs, it is unlikely that patients could receive the care they need to become fully independent members of society in the aftermath of an accident or illness.
Because of this, becoming a PTA can be an excellent choice for an individual who desires to enter a materially and personally rewarding profession.