With a population of over 1 million people, extensive natural resources and a growing and diverse service and industrial economy, Montana has excellent opportunities for individuals seeking to become a physical therapist assistant (PTA).
This well-compensated and highly respected profession is ideal for newly graduated students entering the professional job market for the first time or older individuals who are transitioning to a new field alike.
Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in Montana
Montana requires that anyone intending to practice as a PTA in the state be licensed by the Montana Board of Physical Therapy Examiners. Even if an individual is licensed to practice as a PTA in another state, they cannot work in Montana until they have received a Montana PTA’s license.
The Board currently has the following requirements for anyone seeking to become a PTA in Montana:
- The applicant must be at least 18 years of age.
- The applicant must have completed a PTA program at an accredited institution.
- The applicant must have passed the National Physical Therapy Assistant Examination (NPTAE) examination. In some cases, this is referred to as the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).
- The applicant must pass the Montana physical therapy jurisprudence examination.
A wide variety of schools offer PTA programs, ranging from community colleges to adult education centers and vocational schools. In most cases, a full-time student will take about two years to complete a PTA program and will receive an associate’s degree upon completing the program.
Part-time schedules are usually offered for those students who cannot attend regularly scheduled classes. Although part-time students will take longer to complete the program, this allows individuals who are currently working to complete the program without being forced to leave their current job.
PTA programs include a wide variety of classes in order to ensure that the students are fully trained in all aspects of their future career. Among the subjects they will cover are the following:
- Clinical practices relating to physical therapy.
- Medical terminology and report format.
- Adult psychology and aging.
- Some programs will include specialized courses focusing on eldercare, pediatric physical therapy and other focused subjects.
Depending on the program, some classes may be offered in an online format, enabling the students to complete them on their own schedule. Other classes, especially those that include hands on instruction, will require that the students be physically present for the class sessions.
It is very important that the program be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). This body ensures that accredited institutions maintain high educational and professional standards.
Because of this, most states will not accept coursework performed at a non-accredited institution. A student can verify his or her school’s accreditation by contacting the CAPTE or the school administration.
The NPTAE is a professional exam for individuals wishing to become PTAs that is administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). This examination is regularly updated in order to ensure that it conforms to the current state of knowledge regarding physical therapy.
Although Montana does not limit the number of times a student can retake the NPTAE, failing the test will result in substantial delays in the candidate’s licensure. For this reason, candidates should only take the NPTAE when they are confident that they can successfully pass the examination.
Montana also requires that all individuals seeking licensure as a PTA take and complete a jurisprudence examination.
This exam focuses on how Montana law relates to the PTA’s duties within the state. In addition to being necessary for licensure, it helps educate the PTA on what his or her responsibilities and rights are under Montana law.
Out of State Licensure
Finally, individuals who have been licensed to practice as PTAs in another state may apply for out of state licensure from Montana.
This requires that they provide documentation of every state where they are or have been licensed, in addition to contact information for the licensing agency. Individuals who have not been actively engaged in the practice of physical therapy for four years or longer may be required to complete various types of remedial education in order to ensure that their skills are equivalent to those of currently practicing PTAs.
Becoming a PTA in Montana can be an excellent career choice. In addition to the professional and personal advantages to this career, the growing demand for skilled PTAs helps ensure that new and currently employed PTAs alike will enjoy excellent career prospects. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) currently estimates that between 2010 and 2020, this field will grow by at least 46 percent.
Because of this, newly licensed PTAs can expect to enter a field that is experiencing dynamic and long-term job growth. Finally, becoming a PTA allows an individual to work in a field where he or she is playing a vital role in helping the American people remain healthy.
Whether the PTA is working in a doctor’s office or visiting the elderly in their homes, he or she can gain the satisfaction that comes from knowing that this career is vital to the health and comfort of millions of Americans.