New Mexico and the Physical Therapist Assistant
With a vibrant mixture of urban and rural zones, New Mexico’s dynamic growth has resulted in an increasing demand for healthcare professionals of all types.
For this reason, becoming a New Mexico physical therapy assistant (PTA) can be an excellent career choice for individuals who are seeking a highly respected and well paying career in the healthcare sector.
Physical Therapy Job Opportunities
The field of physical therapy is a rapidly growing one, due to the growing importance of providing full-spectrum healthcare in the United States. This is especially true due to the rising number of elderly in America, many of whom require physical therapy to maintain their independence or stave off degenerative age-related conditions.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) currently estimates that as of 2010 there were over 60,000 PTAs in the United States. That number is expected to grow by at least 46 percent by 2020, adding nearly 31,000 PTA jobs.
When coupled with attrition due to retirement, it is clear that the job market for PTAs will remain extremely promising for the foreseeable future.
Furthermore, PTAs currently earn a median annual national salary of nearly $50,000. New Mexico PTAs earn approximately $40,000. When adjusted for the state’s lower cost of living, this salary level is competitive with other professions that require similar levels of training.
Where they Work
PTAs work in a wide variety of settings, ranging from major hospitals to small rural clinics. In some cases, they provide in home care to those individuals who cannot travel to a clinic. The most common areas of employment for licensed PTAs are the following:
• Ambulatory care centers for the provision of outpatient physical therapy.
• Public and private hospitals.
• Convalescent and eldercare facilities.
• In home care services.
In most cases, PTA jobs do not involved unscheduled overtime. However, some PTAs, especially those working in the in home care and hospital fields may be required to work on the weekends and evenings.
Becoming a PTA in New Mexico
An individual seeking to become a PTA in New Mexico may become one via licensure by examination or by endorsement.
Licensure by examination is the path taken by individuals who have completed a program but not yet entered the field, while individuals who have been licensed as PTAs in another state generally are licensed by endorsement.
Individuals obtaining their license in New Mexico must complete the following steps:
• Complete a physical therapy assistant program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).
• Successfully take the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).
• Complete all required documentation.
• Pass the New Mexico PTA jurisprudence examination in order to demonstrate the candidate’s familiarity with New Mexico law and how it applies to the practice of physical therapy. .
Physical therapy assistant programs are offered by a wide range of institutions, ranging from community colleges to vocational institutions. In most cases, these programs can be completed in approximately two years by a full-time student.
Part-time students, such as individuals who are working or who have family obligations, may take longer to finish the program, but can do so on their own schedule.
In addition, many PTA programs include options to permit some classes to be taken online. However, some classes, especially those with a lab component, require students to physically attend the sessions.
It is extremely important that the student verify that his or her school is currently accredited by and is in good standing with the CAPTE.
New Mexico will not accept course work that is completed at a non-accredited institution. Students who received their education at a foreign program will have to provide documentation demonstrating that their education is equivalent to that provided by an accredited program.
The NPTE is a comprehensive test covering all the academic and practical aspects of a PTA’s duties. This test is regularly updated by a variety of medical professionals in order to ensure that it provides accurate results. Students must complete the NPTE with a passing score before they can obtain a permanent license in New Mexico.
Although it is possible to retake the NPTE should the candidate fail the exam, this will result in unavoidable delays in the licensure process, as the NPTE is only offered at fixed times during the year. For this reason, a candidate should ensure that he or she is fully prepared to pass the NPTE.
Licensure by Endorsement
New Mexico allows those individuals who have been licensed in another state to obtain a New Mexico license without having to repeat the educational process.
They must provide proof of licensure in every state where they are or have been licensed and must also document completion of an educational and testing process equal to that required for licensure in New Mexico.
Furthermore, individuals seeking licensure by endorsement will have to complete the New Mexico jurisprudence examination.
Ultimately, becoming a PTA in New Mexico can be a gateway to a respected career with favorable salary and advancement options. Because of this, individuals interested in a fulfilling and long-term career should seriously consider becoming a New Mexico PTA.