Physical Therapist Assistant - How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant

Physical Therapist Assistant

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Physical Therapist Job Description

 

Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) assist patients with physical therapy procedures and other assigned tasks as directed by the physical therapist who supervises them. PTAs help patients and clients with movement difficulties, with the goal being to improve the quality of life. PTAs may assist patients who suffer from difficulty moving due to disease or injury.

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Responsibilities

 

The physical therapist assistant is expected to work closely with the physical therapist. He or she will assist patients, under the supervision of the physical therapist, with treatments designed to achieve the following goals:

  • Improve mobility

  • Pain relief

  • Prevent or minimize permanent physical disability

  • Promote wellness and overall fitness

Common types of patients or clients that the physical therapist assistant may work with include:

  • Victims of accidents

  • Individuals stricken with short- and long-term disabling conditions

  • Patients suffering low back pain

  • Victims of fractures

  • Patients with head injuries

  • Arthritis sufferers

  • Patients with heart disease

  • Adults and children with cerebral palsy

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Skills

 

Physical Endurance

A PTA must be able to be physical for many hours to help their patients as needed. They must be able to bend, twist, lift, crouch, kneel, push/pull, and the agility to move quickly and ensure patient safety.

Clerical

Must be able to collect and integrate patient histories to solve problems and develop treatments.

Emotional Stability

Must be able to handle the emotional stress of working with impaired patients in need of compassionate health care.

Multitasking

The ability to prioritize and manage multiple tasks simultaneously.

Interpersonal

Must be able to interact with patients and their families regardless of background.

Reasoning

Must be able to apply facts and principles to issues to determine conclusions and solve problems. They must use knowledge and logic to find patters in injuries and determine causes and provide solutions.

Communication

Must be able to clearly convey thoughts and ideas to gauge patient's issues and convey to them the best path to treatment.

Empathy

Must be compassionate and able to empathize with a patient's pain and other difficulties. They are able to make people feel comfortable and meet them at their emotional level to humanize themselves and let people know they care.

Patience

They must understand it takes time to see results and be willing to put in that time. They also must help their clients have patience--especially if they are trying to overcome a difficult injury.

Problem-Solving

Must be able to use knowledge to gauge issues and determine the best route to recovery.

Dexterity

Must work well with your hands and be nimble. You will be put in situations where physical therapy is a must.

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Working Conditions

 

PTAs may find opportunities for employment in any of the following range of settings:

  • Outpatient clinics that provide physical therapy

  • Short- and long-term skilled nursing facilities

  • Public, governmental and private hospitals

  • Rehabilitation centers

  • Home health providers

  • Public and private schools

  • Fitness and sports centers

  • Assisted living facilities

Although work hours can vary depending on the setting, most PTAs work a Monday through Friday schedule. Most hospitals and skilled nursing facilities work with reduced coverage on weekends and holidays. Evening and weekend hours are offered to accommodate patients’ schedules in many outpatient physical therapy settings.

The physical therapist assistant job can be physically demanding. PTAs are expected to walk, kneel, stoop, crouch, lift and stand on their feet for long periods of time. Physical therapist assistants may also be required to move heavy equipment and lift patients. They are also expected to help patients turn, stand or walk.

 


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How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant:

 

Colleges and universities that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education offer two-year, associate degree level programs in physical therapist assistant education. PTAs are required by all states to pass the PTA National Physical Therapy Examination to be certified or licensed to work with patients and clients. The specific licensure requirements in the different states may include juris prudence exams.

 

1. Earn an Associate's Degree (2 Years)

 

PTAs must have an Associate's Degree in most states. The programs usually take two year to complete and can be taken at an accredited community college or trade school. The programs have both classroom instruction and clinical work loads. The program is designed to provide students with the skills to jump into the field after graduation. A typical course load can look like the following:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Kinesiology
  • Psychology
  • Rehabilitation

You also must gain experience working at a treatment center and become CPR and first aid certified. 

 

2. Earn the Required License

 

Most states require physical therapist assistants to be licensed. You can take the National Physical Therapy Exam, which is administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). In some states you might need to take an additional state exam and continuing education credits to maintain your certification.  

 

3. Become a Certified Physical Therapist Assistant (Optional)

 

You can earn a voluntary credential to help you stand out in the job field. , such as the American Physical Therapy Association's (APTA) Recognition of Advanced Proficiency for the Physical Therapist Assistant credential, may help a physical therapist assistant stand out as a professional in the field. Physical therapist assistants who are members of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and have at least five years of work experience, 60 hours of continuing education credits, a letter of recommendation, and demonstrated leadership abilities may qualify for the Recognition of Advanced Proficiency for the PTA. Work experience requirements include at least 2000 working hours in different areas like: musculoskeletal, geriatric, pediatric, or neuromuscular physical therapy. Five hundred of those hours must be completed in the year prior to applying for the credential.

 

4. Maintain Certification With Continuing Education

 

If you are looking to advance your career opportunities, you can further your education and become a Physical Therapist. You can complete the last two years of a Bachelor Degree, or participate in a bridge program that will enable you to use credits and work experience towards your Degree. 

Depending on your state, you may have to earn continuing education credits.

 

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Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
01.25.2017
The Physical Therapist Assistant is a licensed professional whom provides physical therapy services to the patient as prescribed by the ordering physician and determined by the evaluating Physical Therapist. Requirements: Licensed as a...
02.14.2017
Administers physical therapy treatments to patients, working under direction of and as an assistant to a licensed physical therapist, by performing the following duties. Prepares patients treatment areas and equipment that assures patient...
11.11.2016
This position is Part time working days primarily with weekend rotation. The Physical Therapist Assistant I is responsible for providing physical therapy treatment to patients of all ages under the direction and supervision of physical...
02.22.2017
Support Carilion's hallmarks of service excellence and quality for all job responsibilities. Performs selected procedures under the direction of a licensed physical therapist who has evaluated the patient and developed a plan of care. Provides...
02.22.2017
***HOME HEALTH COVERAGE FOR MARTINSVILLE COUNTY*** Support Carilion's hallmarks of service excellence and quality for all job responsibilities. Performs selected procedures under the direction of a licensed physical therapist who has evaluated...
02.22.2017
***HOME HEALTH COVERAGE FOR BEDFORD AREA*** Support Carilion's hallmarks of service excellence and quality for all job responsibilities. Performs selected procedures under the direction of a licensed physical therapist who has evaluated the...
02.22.2017
***HOME HEALTH COVERAGE FOR BUCHANAN/NATURAL BRIDGE AREA*** Support Carilion's hallmarks of service excellence and quality for all job responsibilities. Performs selected procedures under the direction of a licensed physical therapist who has...
02.23.2017
Department: Physical TherapyA Life-Changing CareerPosition Summary: Looking for an energetic, motivated Physical Therapist Assistant to join our current team of excellent Physical Therapists at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato MN. This is a...
02.22.2017
The Physical Therapist Assistant is responsible for administering treatment programs as established and supervised by a Physical Therapist. This position reports to the Assistant Director, Rehabilitation Services and operates within...
10.11.2016
Graduate of an accredited Physical Therapy Assistant Program Current OH Physical Therapist Assistant license/license elig Position Summary: All duties outlined within this document will be performed to established policies, procedures and...
10.12.2016
Boston Medical Center (BMC) is more than a hospital. Its a network of support and care that touches the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in need each year. It is the largest and busiest provider of trauma and emergency services in New...
02.17.2017
Redwood AreaHospital is currently seeking a full-time physical therapist assistant. This is an excellent opportunity to work in a growing hospital-based rehab department supporting the range of services offered to our community. PTA will...
02.22.2017
Work under the direction of the Physical Therapist to provide quality treatments to LTC, Acute Care, Swing Bed and Outpatients. Able to work with MDS team and complete assessments as needed. Must be a graduate of an accredited PTA program.
02.22.2017
Full-time position in Belmond. Hours range from 8:00am-4:30pm Mon-Fri, with some weekend and holiday coverage but will require flexibility. Job duties include but not limited to: Assisting with Orthopedics, Outpatients, Inpatients, Skilled and...
02.22.2017
Position Summary: Under the direction of the Physical Therapy Supervisor, provides Physical therapy services to patients following the plan of care established by a Physical Therapist. Position Requirements: Graduate of an approved associate...
  1. Outpatient Physical Therapist Assistant Springfield, IL Memorial Health System
    The Physical Therapist Assistant is a licensed professional whom provides physical therapy services to the patient as prescribed by the ordering physician and determined by the evaluating Physical Therapist. Requirements: Licensed as a...
  2. Physical Therapist Assistant Cloquet, MN Community Memorial Hospital - Cloquet
    Administers physical therapy treatments to patients, working under direction of and as an assistant to a licensed physical therapist, by performing the following duties. Prepares patients treatment areas and equipment that assures patient...
  3. Physical Therapist Assistant I Springfield, IL Memorial Health System
    This position is Part time working days primarily with weekend rotation. The Physical Therapist Assistant I is responsible for providing physical therapy treatment to patients of all ages under the direction and supervision of physical...
  4. PHYSICAL THERAPIST ASSISTANT Roanoke, VA Carilion Clinic
    Support Carilion's hallmarks of service excellence and quality for all job responsibilities. Performs selected procedures under the direction of a licensed physical therapist who has evaluated the patient and developed a plan of care. Provides...
  5. PHYSICAL THERAPIST ASSISTANT Roanoke, VA Carilion Clinic
    ***HOME HEALTH COVERAGE FOR MARTINSVILLE COUNTY*** Support Carilion's hallmarks of service excellence and quality for all job responsibilities. Performs selected procedures under the direction of a licensed physical therapist who has evaluated...
  6. PHYSICAL THERAPIST ASSISTANT Roanoke, VA Carilion Clinic
    ***HOME HEALTH COVERAGE FOR BEDFORD AREA*** Support Carilion's hallmarks of service excellence and quality for all job responsibilities. Performs selected procedures under the direction of a licensed physical therapist who has evaluated the...
  7. PHYSICAL THERAPIST ASSISTANT Roanoke, VA Carilion Clinic
    ***HOME HEALTH COVERAGE FOR BUCHANAN/NATURAL BRIDGE AREA*** Support Carilion's hallmarks of service excellence and quality for all job responsibilities. Performs selected procedures under the direction of a licensed physical therapist who has...
  8. Physical Therapist Assistant Job Rochester, MN Mayo Clinic - Rochester
    Department: Physical TherapyA Life-Changing CareerPosition Summary: Looking for an energetic, motivated Physical Therapist Assistant to join our current team of excellent Physical Therapists at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato MN. This is a...
  9. Physical Therapist Assistant - Per Diem Northampton, MA Cooley Dickinson Hospital
    The Physical Therapist Assistant is responsible for administering treatment programs as established and supervised by a Physical Therapist. This position reports to the Assistant Director, Rehabilitation Services and operates within...
  10. Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant (Ambulatory) Gallipolis, OH Holzer
    Graduate of an accredited Physical Therapy Assistant Program Current OH Physical Therapist Assistant license/license elig Position Summary: All duties outlined within this document will be performed to established policies, procedures and...
  11. Physical Therapist Assistant 40 hrs Days, Eve Winthrop MA Boston, MA Boston Medical Center
    Boston Medical Center (BMC) is more than a hospital. Its a network of support and care that touches the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in need each year. It is the largest and busiest provider of trauma and emergency services in New...
  12. PHYSICAL THERAPIST ASSISTANT Redwood Falls, MN Redwood Area Hospital
    Redwood AreaHospital is currently seeking a full-time physical therapist assistant. This is an excellent opportunity to work in a growing hospital-based rehab department supporting the range of services offered to our community. PTA will...
  13. Physical Therapist Assistant St. Cloud, MN CentraCare Health
    Work under the direction of the Physical Therapist to provide quality treatments to LTC, Acute Care, Swing Bed and Outpatients. Able to work with MDS team and complete assessments as needed. Must be a graduate of an accredited PTA program.
  14. PHYSICAL THERAPIST ASSISTANT Clarion, IA Iowa Specialty Hospital
    Full-time position in Belmond. Hours range from 8:00am-4:30pm Mon-Fri, with some weekend and holiday coverage but will require flexibility. Job duties include but not limited to: Assisting with Orthopedics, Outpatients, Inpatients, Skilled and...
  15. Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant Norwalk, OH Fisher-Titus Medical Center
    Position Summary: Under the direction of the Physical Therapy Supervisor, provides Physical therapy services to patients following the plan of care established by a Physical Therapist. Position Requirements: Graduate of an approved associate...