All about becoming a PTA in Wisconsin – Step by Step.
As a state with a wide range of economic activities and extensive rural, urban and suburban regions, Wisconsin has become a center for a growing healthcare sector.
Because of this, physical therapy has become an increasingly important part of providing elective and non-elective care to Wisconsin residents, which has dramatically increased the need for qualified physical therapy assistants in the state.
Becoming a Physical Therapy Assistant
A physical therapy assistant (PTA) is a licensed medical professional who works with supervising professionals such as physical therapists, physicians and registered nurses.
In Wisconsin, licensure of PTAs is handled by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services.
This body has established the following requirements for individuals seeking obtain a Wisconsin PTA license.
- Complete a PTA program at an accredited school. The school must send verification of this fact to the licensing authority.
- Successfully pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).
- Complete the Wisconsin application form and pay all relevant fees.
Physical Therapy Assistant Programs
There are a wide range of PTA programs that are currently offered in the United States. In most cases, a full-time student can complete these programs in approximately two years, depending on the nature of the program.
Part-time students will take longer to complete the program, but can attend on a schedule that suits their specific situation.
For example, many students who are currently working can attend school on a part-time basis in order to ensure that their class and work schedules do not clash.
In addition, some schools offer online and distance learning options, which can enable students to take some courses without having to physically attend the classes.
It is vital that the student verify that his or her program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) or is otherwise approved by the state.
Wisconsin does not in general accept classes taken at a non-accredited school, which can result in the candidate being forced to repeat his or her education.
Those students who have graduated from a foreign PTA program must have their program evaluated by the state in order to ensure that it is substantially equal to an accredited program.
This process can take some time, so the student should be certain to start the evaluation process as early as possible in order to avoid potential delays in licensure.
The NPTE is a national examination that is administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT).
This examination is designed to evaluate the candidate’s professional and academic qualifications to work as a physical therapy assistant.
In Wisconsin, a student who fails the NPTE three times will be required to engage in remedial work designed to rectify the problems in his or her understanding of the field. After a fifth failure, additional remedial work will be required.
It is important to note that some states do not allow the licensure of students who have failed the NPTE a given number of times, even if they took the test in another state.
In addition, failing the NPTE can have negative consequences for an individual’s employability in this field. Because of this, students should be certain to only take the NPTE when they are fully confident that they can pass the examination.
Licensure by Endorsement
Individuals who are currently licensed in another state can be licensed by endorsement. In order to be licensed they must provide Wisconsin with proof of their education, NPTE scores and verification that they are currently licensed in another state. It is important to note that holding a license in another state does not qualify an individual to practice in Wisconsin until they have obtained a valid Wisconsin PTA license.
Job Options for PTAs
PTAs are currently enjoying extremely favorable job prospects.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has determined that there were over 67,000 employed PTAs and the number of open jobs is expected to increase by at least 46 percent until 2020 and beyond.
This, coupled with the fact that many older PTAs will be retiring in the new future, ensures that this field will continue to need a large number of newly licensed PTAs in order to fill the expected demand for qualified PTAs.
In Wisconsin, there are currently over 1400 practicing PTAs working in a wide range of areas. Because of the continued growth in the field, Wisconsin, like the rest of the nation, is likely to see the demand for qualified PTAs grow for the foreseeable future.
The annual median wage for Wisconsin PTAs is over $49,000, which is extremely competitive when compared to other fields that demand a similar level of education and training.
Where do PTAs Work?
PTAs work in a wide range of settings, ranging from private medical practices to major state hospitals. In most cases, PTAs work a regularly scheduled shift and do not usually have to endure unscheduled overtime. The nature of the PTA’s duties will often vary dramatically depending on where he or she is employed.
The most common sources of employment for PTAs include the following:
• Providing outpatient care at ambulatory care clinics.
• Working with individual physical therapists or doctors in a private practice.
• Providing rehabilitation services at a private or public hospital.
• Providing in home care for individuals who cannot easily travel.
• Providing rehabilitation and supportive care services in a convalescent or eldercare facility.
Becoming a PTA can be an excellent route to a secure, well-compensated and highly respected career. Due to the continued strong growth in the field of physical therapy, PTAs will enjoy excellent job and salary options. Finally, by becoming a PTA an individual can enjoy the personal satisfaction that arises from knowing that he or she is providing a vital service to America’s healthcare sector and those it serves.
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