New York State and Physical Therapist Assistants
As one of the most heavily populated states in America, New York currently has a growing demand for high quality medical care, including the provision of physical therapy for a wide range of medical conditions.
Because of this, becoming a physical therapy assistant (PTA) in New York can be an excellent career choice for individuals seeking a long-term, respected and well-compensated career.
Physical Therapist Assistants in New York
New York has a dynamic population mixture, ranging from the heavily urbanized regions such as New York City, to suburban and rural areas. Because of this, PTAs in the state have a varied number of employment opportunities, ranging from working in doctor’s offices to employment in large clinics or hospitals.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), currently there are over 3,500 PTAs employed in the state, and this number is expected to increase dramatically by 2020, with the BLS estimating an overall increase in available national PTA jobs of at least 45 percent.
When coupled with job attrition due to retirements and other factors, this indicates that the field will continue to provide excellent job opportunities for newly licensed PTAs.
What Does a PTA Do?
A PTA assists other medical professionals in planning, implementing and evaluating a course of physical therapy for the patients he or she is working with.
In most cases, every patient receives an individualized course of treatment, which demands a close attention to detail on the part of the PTA.
PTAs are often employed by the following types of establishments:
- Ambulatory care clinics, where they provide physical therapy on an outpatient basis.
- Convalescent and retirement homes.
- Sports medicine and rehabilitation centers.
- In home care for individuals who suffer from mobility issues.
In most cases, a PTA does not have to endure unscheduled overtime, although some fields, most notably hospital physical therapy services, may demand overtime. In addition, many PTAs work a regular office shift, which can be important for individuals who are currently caring for minor children.
The PTA provides his or her patients with a wide range of services. Common PTA duties include the following:
- Instructing the patient in how to carry out the planned course of physical therapy.
- Providing physical assistance to the patient during the course of physical therapy.
- Educating family members and other caregivers in how to assist the patient in safely carrying out his or her therapy.
- Assisting individuals who have lost a limb in learning how to use a prosthetic replacement.
- For patients with mobility issues, the PTA will help train them in how to safely and effectively use wheelchairs and other mobility enhancing devices.
Becoming a PTA in New York
New York mandates that all practicing PTAs must be licensed. For New York, the requirements for a new PTA include the following:
- Completing a state registered or Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) accredited program of study.
- Taking and successfully passing the National Physical Therapist Assistant Examination (NPTE).
Completing a PTA Program
There is a wide variety of options for individuals seeking to complete a physical therapy assistant program. Community colleges, vocational training centers and adult education schools all offer physical therapy assistant programs.
In most cases, these programs take approximately two years for a full-time student to complete. In addition, most schools have part-time programs for those students who cannot attend on a full-time basis due to other commitments.
However, a part-time program will usually take longer to complete, depending on the student’s precise schedule.
It is very important to ensure that the program is either registered with New York, or has been accredited by the CAPTE. This not only ensures that the student’s education will be accepted by the state, but also shows that the school provides a high quality education in this field.
Students who have attended a school that is not registered or CAPTE accredited must demonstrate that their education is substantially equal to that of an accredited institution. This is most commonly an issue for students who have graduated from a foreign school.
In this case, the student must provide the required information to the New York Office of the Professions. Because evaluating the student’s course work may take some time, it is important to provide this information as soon as possible.
The NPTE is a comprehensive examination that evaluates all aspects of the candidate’s skill in the field of physical therapy. While New York does not limit the number of times an individual can retake the NPTE, failing this exam will delay the licensure of the candidate, so it is important to be prepared to pass the examination.
Licensure by Endorsement
New York also provides licensure by endorsement for individuals who have been licensed in another state.
In general, these individuals must have at least three years of experience in the field, obtained no earlier than seven years before their application, as well as completing educational and test requirements that are substantially equal to New York’s licensure requirements.
Even individuals currently licensed in another state cannot practice in New York until they meet these requirements.
Becoming a PTA can be an excellent career decision, whether the individual is thinking of transitioning to a more rewarding career or a newly graduated adult who is preparing to enter the job market. As part of a profession that is well compensated and enjoys a great deal of professional and public respect, a PTA can expect to enjoy a personally and professionally rewarding career.