All About Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in Missouri
Missouri currently enjoys a growing and robust physical therapy sector. Because of this, individuals seeking to become a licensed physical therapist assistant (PTA) should strongly consider seeking employment in this state.
Currently, Missouri employees over 2,000 PTAs who earn a median salary of nearly $48,000.
When combined with the lower cost of living Missouri residents face, this salary level compares very favorably with other the median salaries of other states.
In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has estimated that the employment prospects for PTAs are showing robust growth, with as many as 46 percent more PTAs being needed by 2020 when compared to the number of PTAs employed earlier in the decade.
When combined with the normal attrition in the field due to retirement and other causes, this indicates that newly licensed PTAs will enjoy excellent employment options.
Becoming a PTA in Missouri
Missouri requires that all practicing PTAs be licensed by the Advisory Commission for Professional Physical Therapists.
The licensing procedure requires that the candidates complete several steps before applying to the Commission.
These steps include:
- Complete an accredited program for PTAs.
- Take the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) and obtain a passing score.
- Completely fill out the application form and pay all applicable fees to the Commission.
Physical Therapy Assistant Programs
Accredited PTA programs provide a comprehensive education for their students in how to effectively work as a PTA. In most cases, the program includes academic studies in a classroom setting, as well as hands on work in a lab or clinical setting.
Some programs also allow students to work with actual patients while under the supervision of a licensed instructor.
In most cases, a full-time student will complete a PTA program in approximately two years. Many programs allow students to attend on a part-time schedule, which enables them to complete the program at their own pace.
This can be especially useful for students who have other demands on their time, such as caring for a family or a full-time job.
Finally, while some classes can be taken online, many classes will require that the student physically attend in order to take part in class.
It is extremely important that the student ensure that his or her school is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Missouri does not generally accept degrees awarded by non-accredited institutions.
Foreign programs must prove that they are substantially equivalent to an accredited program. For this reason, students attending a program in the United States should check with the CAPTE to ensure that their program is currently in good standing.
The NPTE is a nationally administered test that is designed to verify the candidate’s practical and academic qualifications to become a PTA.
Because many states restrict the number of times a candidate can take the NPTE, it is vital that the candidate ensure that he or she is fully prepared before taking this examination. This is especially important for those individuals who may consider moving to another state at some point in the future.
Licensure by Reciprocity
Missouri allows individuals who are licensed and in good standing in another state to apply for licensure by reciprocity.
This allows an individual to avoid being forced to repeat the educational and exam requirements to obtain a PTA’s license.
Instead, the candidate must demonstrate that his or her home state’s licensure standards are substantially equal to Missouri’s.
This process can take some time, so individuals seeking licensure by reciprocity should contact the Missouri Commission as early as possible in order to ensure there is no delay in their licensure process.
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Working in Missouri
There are a wide range of rural and urban communities in Missouri that have a growing need for licensed PTAs. A Missouri PTA will usually work in the following establishments:
- Ambulatory care clinics.
- Public and private hospitals.
- Long-term rehabilitation facilities.
- Eldercare facilities.
In most cases, the PTA will work on a regular schedule, with little required overtime. Depending on the establishment, the PTA may work to assist patients in recovering from surgical procedures, injuries or illness, in which case the physical therapy will be designed to restore them to their previous physical condition.
In other cases, such as where a traumatic injury has resulted in the amputation of a limb, the PTA will help the patient restore as much as their physical abilities as possible.
PTAs that are working in long-term rehabilitation facilities or eldercare clinics may be involved in working with individuals that are suffering degenerative diseases due to disease or aging. In this case, the PTA will be primarily oriented around maintaining as much of his or her patient’s physical independence and health as possible.
This can be especially important for the elderly, as it has been demonstrated that being physically active can drastically reduce the impact of various types of common degenerative conditions such as some types of dementia.
The Benefits of Becoming a PTA
In addition to the financial and professional benefits of becoming a PTA, this field can be a personally rewarding field. PTAs enjoy a large amount of professional and personal respect as well as numerous opportunities for advancement.
Due to the growing importance of quality medical care for America’s aging population, PTAs can expect see a rising number of employment opportunities, no matter their experience level.
Because of this, becoming a PTA in Missouri can be an excellent decision.