Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in Mississippi
Mississippi has a robust and growing demand for physical therapy assistants. With a vibrant combination of urban and rural populations, as well as a growing number of elderly individuals, the importance of being able to provide effective physical therapy to all of the state’s residents is greater than ever.
Becoming a Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant in Mississippi
Mississippi requires that all practicing physical therapy assistants be licensed by the Mississippi State Board of Physical Therapy.
- Complete an accredited program of training for physical therapy assistants.
- Take and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for physical therapy assistants.
- Take and pass the Mississippi jurisprudence examination.
- Submit to a comprehensive criminal background check.
- Finally, individuals licensed in another state that has similar requirements to Mississippi may obtain licensure by endorsement.
Completing a Physical Therapy Assistant Program
Most physical therapy assistant programs are offered by vocational schools or community colleges and confer an associate’s degree upon graduation.
In general, these programs take approximately two years for a full-time student to complete. Many of these programs also offer part-time schedules, allowing working students to complete the program at their own pace.
Physical therapist assistant programs include a mixture of academic and clinical instruction. Among other subjects, students are trained in how to provide effective physical therapy, recognize symptoms of illness or injury and avoid the spread of infection in the medical setting.
Finally, some programs allow their students to work on actual patients under the direct supervision of licensed physical therapists and other medical professionals.
Accredited Programs and Foreign Physical Therpist Assistant Programs
This organization evaluates programs and only accredits those that adhere to very high educational standards. Because of the importance of accreditation, a student should verify that his or her program is in good standing with CAPTE before entering it.
Foreign programs are not accredited by the CAPTE and Mississippi requires that they demonstrate a level of education that is equivalent to an accredited institution.
Graduates of foreign programs will have to submit complete information about the program’s curriculum to a credential review service as directed by the Mississippi Board.
Because the credential review process may require a lengthy period of evaluation, the candidate should submit this information as soon as possible.
Taking the NPTE
The NPTE is a comprehensive exam for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants. This exam evaluates the candidate’s academic and practical knowledge in the field of physical therapy.
In order to pass the NPTE in Mississippi, the student must score at least 600 on the test. While it is possible to retake the NPTE, this can seriously delay the licensure process and so a candidate should only schedule the NPTE when he or she is confident of passing the examination.
The State Jurisprudence Examination
The jurisprudence examination focuses on ensuring that the candidate is fully aware of the state of Mississippi law as it pertains to the practice of physical therapy.
This test may be retaken as many times as necessary, but it is extremely important that the candidate understand his or her responsibilities under Mississippi law.
Failure to abide by the various regulations regarding physical therapy assistants can result in the suspension or revocation of the individual’s license to practice in Mississippi.
The State Background Check
There are a variety of criminal and civil offenses that may result in the individual being rendered unable to obtain a license in Mississippi.
For this reason, the state requires a comprehensive background check before allowing the candidate to obtain a license.
Individuals who feel that they may have a background that could impact their ability to practice in the state should discuss this with their program faculty or the Board itself in order to determine what steps, if any, they must take to ensure that they can obtain a license in Mississippi.
Physical therapy assistants are currently enjoying excellent job and salary options. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has determined that physical therapy assistants are likely to enjoy a 46 percent expansion of available careers until 2020.
This, combined with the attrition among currently employed physical therapy assistants, will ensure that newly graduated physical therapy assistants will enter a field that has a high level of demand for new employees.
In addition, the current annual mean salary for Mississippi physical therapy assistants is almost $43,000. When combined with Mississippi’s low cost of living, this level of salary compares favorably with the national average for physical therapy assistants.
Becoming a physical therapy assistant is an excellent choice in today’s economy. With a growing demand for physical therapy providers at every level of the healthcare sector, physical therapy assistants in Mississippi will continue to enjoy a high level of respect in a professionally and personally rewarding field.