Selecting the Best Possible PTA Program
In today’s healthcare sector, physical therapist assistants (PTAs) are in high demand. These licensed professionals assist physical therapists, physicians and other medical professionals in providing high quality care for a wide range of patients.
Whether the individual is interested in caring for athletes on an outpatient basis or working in a long-term care facility, this field has excellent professional opportunities.
However, an important part of becoming a qualified PTA is finding a school that has an adequate PTA program.
For this reason, anyone seeking to enter this profession should carefully evaluate the program before making the decision to enter it.
There are a number of different factors that may impact the quality of the program, including its faculty, accreditation status and any outside arrangements the program may have to enable its students to work as interns.
Legal Requirements to Become a PTA
In most states, anyone seeking to become a PTA must complete the following steps:
• Have graduated from a high school or obtained an equivalency degree.
• Be at least 18 years of age.
• Have completed an accredited PTA program.
• Have taken and passed the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).
• In some states, the individual must also take and pass other examinations, such as a state jurisprudence exam.
• Some states mandate that the individual must not have been convicted of certain criminal offenses in order to be eligible for licensure as a PTA.
In addition, most states mandate a certain amount of continuing education on the part of all licensed PTAs in order to be eligible to renew their licenses.
This continuing education can be a combination of practical experience and classroom instruction, although the exact requirements vary depending on the state.
State licensure requirements for PTA candidates can change due to new legislation. For this reason, anyone seeking to become a PTA must determine what the current requirements are by contacting their state’s licensure agency or the local professional PTA association.
Evaluating the School
Because completing a PTA program is so important, it is vital to ensure that the program is of the highest possible quality.
The top PTA schools in the nation provide the staff for some of America’s most noted medical facilities and as such can dramatically improve the earning potential for their graduates.
The following questions can help the student determine whether or not a PTA program is suited to his or her needs.PTA Schools By State
Has the School Been Accredited?
The most important question to ask is whether or not the school’s PTA program is currently accredited.
The Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) is in charge of accrediting PTA programs within the United States. All states currently require PTA programs to be CAPTE accredited before they will recognize them.
A student attending a non-accredited program is essentially wasting his or her time. For this reason, a student should always ensure that his or her PTA program is currently in good standing with the CAPTE.
Foreign programs cannot be accredited by the CAPTE, but most states will evaluate the program to determine if it is substantially equal to a CAPTE accredited program.
However, this process can take some time, so the student should be certain to submit all the required information well before he or she intends to become licensed.
How Qualified is the Program’s Faculty?
Unlike many subjects, a PTA program requires both classroom and practical instruction. For this reason, the student should verify that the faculty has recent practical experience in the field of physical therapy.
In some cases, instructors may be currently working in the field of physical therapy, either as PTAs or in some other capacity.
These instructors can be extremely valuable to their students due to the amount of practical training and information they can provide.
Does the School Provide Internship Opportunities?
Internships can be a very valuable method of obtaining experience prior to obtaining a PTA’s license. Individuals who have served as interns can often command higher wages than those with no work experience.
Many schools offer internship programs for qualified students, making them a better choice for those students seeking to quickly enter the job market. However, not all states permit individuals to work as PTAs or assist PTAs before they have graduated from a PTA program, while other states put strict restrictions on what duties an intern can perform. For this reason, anyone seeking to obtain an internship should carefully study what his or her duties will be.
Does the School Provide Assistance With the NPTE?
The National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) is a vital part of any student’s career. An individual cannot be licensed as a PTA until he or she has successfully taken and passed this test. Furthermore, some states limit the number of times a candidate can attempt to take the NPTE, which can have serious professional implications.
The best schools provide assistance with the NPTE in order to ensure that their students can pass the exam, both before and after the student graduates from the program.
Anyone seeking to enter a PTA program should check to see if the program provides effective assistance for those students who may be having difficulty with the NPTE.
Finally, one of the most important parts of any PTA program is how effectively the school will assist its graduates in finding employment.
An effective job placement program can help the graduate quickly transition into a well-paying career while also taking the graduate’s desires regarding what specialties he or she wishes to focus on into account.
A job placement program can be especially useful in helping the graduate determine which employers are most likely to treat their employees effectively, which can mean the difference between an enjoyable and miserable work experience.
Ultimately, when choosing the best PTA program, the student should carefully evaluate it and be unafraid to ask questions from the program’s faculty, administrators and current and former students.
Becoming a PTA is a decision that will have a long-term impact on the student’s personal and professional life. For that reason, the student must make every effort to seek out the best possible PTA program before making a final decision.PTA Schools By State