The Benefits of Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in Nebraska
As a state with a growing economy and population, Nebraska currently has a dynamic medical sector that requires a wide range of healthcare professionals.
Among these professionals are a growing number of physical therapist assistants (PTAs), reflecting the national and state demand for qualified PTAs.
What Does a Physical Therapist Assistant Do?
A PTA provides physical therapy to his or her patients under the direction of a physical therapist, physician or other medical professional.
In most cases, the physical therapy is intended to assist the patient in recovering from a traumatic injury, major surgical procedure or to maintain the individual’s general physical wellness.
Additionally, many elderly individuals receive physical therapy in order to help them maintain an independent and fulfilling lifestyle in their golden years.
Under the supervision of a physical therapist or other medical professional, a PTA carries out the following duties:
- Carrying out a plan of physical therapy that has been arrived at by the physical therapist or supervising physician.
- Instructing the patient in how to safely engage in the physical therapy exercises. In many cases, the PTA may be required to physically assist the patient during the exercises, especially for those individuals suffering some degree of physical disability.
- Providing in home services for individuals who cannot easily travel to a clinic or hospital. This service is especially common in states like Nebraska where many patients live in isolated rural areas.
- Making regular reports to the PTA’s supervisor on the progress of those patients the PTA is working with. The ability to write accurate and concise reports is a vital part of any PTAs duties, as this information will be used to determine if any program changes are needed.
- Working with family members and other caregivers. In many cases, the PTA will provide training and other supportive services for those caregivers who are providing at home assistance to those individuals who are currently receiving physical therapy.
PTAs and the Elderly
Many PTAs work with elderly individuals, either on an outpatient basis or as part of the staff of an eldercare facility. When working with the elderly, many of whom are experiencing age related cognitive disorders, the PTA must be understanding and professional at all times.
Because of the rise in the number of the elderly in America, this field will continue to grow at a rapid pace.
Becoming a PTA in Nebraska
Nebraska only allows those individuals who have been licensed by the Nebraska Board of Physical Therapy to practice within the state.
While individuals who hold a valid license in another state may obtain a license by endorsement, even a current out of state license does not permit the individual to practice within Nebraska.
Becoming a PTA requires the following steps to be completed by all individuals who are entering the field of physical therapy:
• Successfully complete a PTA program offered by an accredited institution.
• Take and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).
• Successfully complete the Nebraska jurisprudence examination.
Physical Therapy Programs
Most PTA programs include a mixture of academic and hands on education that will prepare the student for a career as a licensed PTA.
In addition, many programs have flexible scheduling, which allows those individuals who are currently employed to complete the program as part-time students, arranging their schedule around their other commitments.
Other programs include online or distance learning components, which can allow the students to complete some of the coursework from home, although many programs require the student’s physical presence for some of their courses.
It is extremely important that the student only attend a program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) or has been approved by the Nebraska Board. Students attending a non-accredited program may find that the state refuses to accept their work, forcing them to repeat some or all of their education.
The NPTE is a comprehensive national examination that is administered to all PTA candidates wishing to practice in Nebraska. This test focuses on ensuring that the candidate possesses the academic and practical skills needed to provide high quality physical therapy services.
In Nebraska, students cannot take the examination before they have graduated from a PTA program.
Those students who have failed the NPTE may attempt to retake the test. However, the student can retake the NPTE no more than four times in Nebraska. In addition, some states have a limit on the total number of times a candidate for licensure may retake the NPTE, even if the attempts took place in another state. For this reason, it is very important to pass the NPTE as quickly as possible.
The State Jurisprudence Examination
The Nebraska jurisprudence examination is designed to ensure that all PTAs understand their rights and limitations under Nebraska law.
The examination includes questions relating to what types of treatment a PTA may perform and how they would respond to various situations. The jurisprudence test may be repeated although this will delay the licensure of the PTA.
Ultimately, becoming a PTA in Nebraska can be a gateway to a secure, well-compensated and highly respected field. PTAs not only provide a valuable service to those individuals under their care, but they receive a great deal of respect from their superiors and coworkers alike.
For this reason, many individuals are choosing to enter the field of physical therapy soon after their graduation from high school. Other individuals have chosen to transition from an unsatisfying job to enjoy the personally and professionally rewarding career of a physical therapy assistant.