The physical therapist assistant (PTA) assists in the delivery of physical therapy services under the supervision of a physical therapist (PT). While the physical therapist evaluates the patient, sets goals, and develops the appropriate treatment plan, the physical therapist assistant:
- implements treatment plans designed by the physical therapist
- understands the rationale and effectiveness of treatment procedures
- communicates regularly with the supervising physical therapist
- performs measurement and assessment techniques for assisting the PT in monitoring and modifying interventions within the plan of care
- documents relevant aspects of patient treatment
#4 job in Best Health Care Support Jobs by U.S. News and World Report
There are plenty of great job opportunities in this field, with approximately 31,900 new jobs opening by 2024, according to the BLS. Physical therapist assistants made a median salary of $54,410 in 2014. Although the largest chunk of physical therapist assistants are employed by the practices of physical, occupational and speech-language therapists, they are usually paid the best by home health care services.
The 2 PTA program is a five semester, two-year, academically based program to prepare the graduate to take the PTA licensure/certification examination in preparation for employment. Upon satisfactory completion of the program the student is awarded an Associate in Science degree in Physical Therapist Assistant. Students enrolled in the Penn State DuBois 2 PTA program will be required to:
- Become certified in CPR
- Annually purchase liability insurance
- Assume all responsibilities for transportation to and from clinical facilities to which they are assigned for clinical education; student may be required to make special housing or transportation arrangements during clinical education.
- Sign a form to indicate if they have or have not had the Hepatitis B vaccination series. Many clinics require this vaccination. A waiver form will be provided.
- Perform volunteer or observation hours (10-20 hours) in a health care facility during the second semester of classes. It is preferred that students begin this requirement during the summer prior to the start of classes at Penn State DuBois.
- Complete drug testing and/ or FBI fingerprinting as required by assigned clinical sites.
- Obtain criminal background checks, child abuse clearances, medical testing, and immunizations as required by university policy.
- Attend a PTA program orientation session during the first Fall semester of the program.
The mission of the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Program at Penn State DuBois is to graduate well-educated, competent, caring, quality oriented physical therapist assistants who will provide physical therapy services to patients/clients across the life span who are experiencing pain or have a disability, under the direct supervision of a licensed physical therapist. This program mission is consistent with the university-wide, the University College and the campus mission. In order to meet this mission, the PTA program faculty will:
- Provide a high-quality physical therapist assistant education program that produces a culturally sensitive, competent and safe clinician.
- Engage in professional development activities that will advance their knowledge related to physical therapy, rehabilitation and teaching.
- Provide a positive example to their students by service and leadership to the physical therapy profession and community.
The PTA curriculum is designed to train individuals to become Physical Therapist Assistants while providing them with a broad based general education. This dual approach prepares skilled technical health care workers that provide a vital function in today's society and prepares the PTA graduate for the life-long learning experiences necessary to keep them abreast of the changing field of physical therapy.
The PTA curriculum demands both the manual skills necessary to perform the duties of the PTA as well as the intellectual and thinking skills necessary for many of life's decisions. Training in clinically relevant knowledge, communication skills, cultural diversity, and the ability to function as a team member to complete a project are general goals of this program.
Program Goals and Objectives
The PTA Program will strive to:
Goal 1. Develop clinicians who possess and can apply their knowledge of basic sciences, PT theory and procedures to practice as a physical therapist assistant in a variety of practice settings to enhance patient care.
Objective A. Competently carry out the plan of care established by the PT.
Objective B. Collect relevant data in order to determine if modification of treatment is needed.
Objective C. Effectively perform quality patient-centered treatment interventions while minimizing risk to patient, self and others.
Goal 2. Develop clinicians who possess the necessary professional behaviors to practice as a physical therapist assistant.
Objective A. Demonstrate effective verbal and non-verbal communication including documentation.
Objective B. Demonstrate problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
Objective C. Apply effective interpersonal skills with a wide variety of persons in the classroom and professional settings.
Goal 3. Develop clinicians who are culturally sensitive and have a sense of commitment to the physical therapy profession’s core values and ethics as outlined in APTA’s “Standards of Ethical Conduct for the PTA”.
Objective A. Respect the rights and dignity of all individuals by responding to the individual cultural needs of each patient.
Objective B. Comply with the laws and regulations governing physical therapy.
Objective C. Protect the public and the profession from unethical, incompetent, and illegal acts.
Goal 4. Develop clinicians who are prepared to be lifelong learners and keep current with best practices.
Objective A. Identify own learning needs.
Objective B. Adopt and value professional development practices demonstrated by faculty.
- Physical Therapist Assistant Associates Degree