Becoming a North Dakota PTA
Physical therapy is becoming a vital part of any long-term course of medical care. Whether it is part of the rehabilitation process after a severe injury or major surgical procedure, or the long-term use of physical therapy in order to improve the patient’s general health, physical therapy is in greater demand than ever before.
For this reason, skilled and licensed physical therapy assistants are currently enjoying a strong professional and personal advancement options in this field.
Physical Therapy Assistants in North Dakota
The physical therapy assistant (PTA) is an integral part of any physical therapy process. In addition to providing direct assistance to the patient, the PTA works closely with the supervising physical therapist, physician and other medical professionals to ensure that the patient is receiving the best possible care.
PTAs usually provide the following types of services to those patients under their care:
- Under the direction of the supervising medical staff, the PTA will implement individualized plans of physical therapy with his or her patients.
- Assisting their patients in carrying out the physical therapy in a safe manner.
- For individuals who are suffering from mobility issues, the PTA will instruct them and their caregivers in how to safely use equipment such as walkers or wheelchairs.
- The PTA will provide regular reports to his or her supervisors in order to assist in evaluating their patients’ progress.
- When an individual is being treated on an outpatient basis, the PTA will instruct him or her in how to effectively and safely carry out any home based physical therapies.
- Finally, PTAs will help train caregivers in how to provide effective physical therapy for home bound or elderly individuals. In addition, some PTAs may visit the home in order to provide direct assistance to home bound individuals.
Where Do PTAs Work?
Most PTAs work in ambulatory care clinics, where they help provide physical therapy on an outpatient basis. In addition, many PTAs work in public and private hospitals, eldercare and convalescent centers. Depending on the size and type of the establishment, a PTA may specialize in one area, or serve as a general aide to the supervising medical professionals.
One growing area of employment is the use of PTAs to travel to the homes of various patients to help provide physical therapy on an in-home basis. This can be especially useful in providing therapy to elderly or disabled individuals who may be unable to easily travel outside of their home.
Job Options for Physical Therapist Assistants
Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that there are over 67,000 PTAs in the United States and that number is expected to increase by at least 45 percent by 2020. When coupled with attrition among currently employed PTAs due to retirement and other factors, this presents an extremely favorable job environment for newly licensed PTAs.
In addition, the median salary for North Dakota PTAs is over $50,000, making this an excellent choice for North Dakota residents who wish to enter a well-compensated and secure career. When coupled with the growing job opportunities for PTAs, this field is likely to continue to provide excellent professional advancement opportunities for the foreseeable future.
Becoming a PTA
Like most states, North Dakota only permits licensed individuals to work as PTAs. It is important to note that an individual who currently holds a license in another state must still apply to North Dakota for licensure by endorsement before he or she can practice in the state. The North Dakota Board of Physical Therapy currently handles the licensure of PTAs in the state and provides regularly updated standards for licensure. Currently, an individual seeking a license in North Dakota must complete the following steps:
- Complete an accredited PTA program.
- Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).
- Complete a state jurisprudence examination.
- Pay the licensure fee.
Completing an Accredited PTA Program
Most full-time students can complete a PTA program in about two years, while part-time students will usually take somewhat longer. However, part-time students have the advantage of being able to attend school even if they are currently employed or caring for children. Finally, some programs permit their students to take classes online, reducing the amount of time that must be physically spent in class.
PTA programs cover the academic and practical information needed to provide excellent service as a PTA. In addition to classroom instruction, many programs include lab or clinical work where the students can interact with actual patients under the supervision of licensed instructors.
It is very important that a student only attend a program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Students attending a non-accredited school may find some or all of their educational work disqualified by the Board.
The NPTE is a nationwide test that evaluates the student’s qualifications to practice as a PTA. This comprehensive examination is regularly updated in order to ensure that it reflects the current state of the field of physical therapy.
Although a student can retake the NPTE an unlimited number of times in North Dakota, failing this exam will result in a substantial delay before the student can retake the test in order to qualify for licensure. In addition, some states place a limit on the number of times an individual may retake the NPTE, which could have an impact on anyone seeking to move to another state.
The Jurisprudence Examination
The jurisprudence examination is a test that evaluates the student’s understanding of how North Dakota law interacts with the practice of physical therapy. Students must pass this test in order to show that they are fully aware of their rights and responsibilities under state law.
Ultimately, becoming a PTA can be an excellent choice for an individual seeking a well-paying and personally rewarding career. In addition, the continued growth in this field will provide a great deal of job security for current and future PTAs, making this career an excellent one for those students interested in a long-term professional career.