- Job Description
Basic job description
Physical Therapy Assistant assists physical therapist in providing physical therapy procedures and treatments to patients. In accordance to State laws, they may assist in the development of treatment plans, document progress of treatment plans, carry out routine function, and conduct modification of specific treatments in harmony with status of the patient and within the scope plans of treatment established by a physical therapist. This job requires a formal training. Assistant physical therapists work as part of a team consisting, doctors, physical therapists and social workers.
Their duty involves working with people of all ages, including the elderly patients who experience mobility problems. Some work with handicapped children, while others work with patients recovering from physical injuries, patients who have arthritis problems, or paralyzed. The work of a Physical Therapy Assistant involves the use of different types of equipments and procedures. They conduct treatment by using exercises, body massage, cold, heat, and light. In addition, assistants teach patients how to use and take care of braces, wheelchairs, and artificial limbs. They also perform other duties that allow physical therapists to have more time to put their special training to use. Such duties may include preparing a patient for therapy session as well as some office work.
In most states, Physical Therapy Assistant must have an associate degree from an accredited physical therapist programs. Typically, students engage in clinical practice in addition to their in-class courses. The classes include physiology, anatomy, biomechanics, neuroscience, kinesiology, and ethics. In addition, physical therapist assistants must comply with their states registration, licensing, or certification requirements. This involves passing an examination administered by the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE), (www.fsbpt.org).
- Education and Certification
Physical therapists must complete postsecondary education programs accredited by the American Therapy Association Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). By July 2011, there were 276 associate’s degree programs for physical therapist assistant education programs accredited by CAPTE (www.capteonline.org).
Degree Program for Physical Therapy Associates
Candidates must undergo both academic work as well as clinical practice outside the classroom. Associate’s degree program for physical therapist assistant focus on rehabilitation methods. Typically, associate’s degree program takes two years to complete. The approximate total cost of the two-year education program for physical therapy assistant including fees, tuition, and the cost of materials for completing the whole is $8300 (www.capteonline.org). The courses may include physiology, therapeutic exercises, medical terminology, human development, healthcare law, and rehabilitation procedures. The final three semesters of study incorporates three clinical practical practices. Clinical practical course include training on first aid that leads to certification on cardiopulmonary resurrection. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) maintains that most employers look for professionals with qualification and experience in clinical practice when recruiting candidates for the position of a physical therapy assistant (www.bls.gov).
Physical therapy assistants must acquire certification before they can practice in most states in the U.S. with exception of Hawaii and Colorado. Even though licensing requirements vary from state to state, it generally includes completion of physical therapy assistant degree program accredited by CAPTE. This requires passing the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE), an exam administered by the Federation of State of States Board of Physical Therapy.
Some specialized areas in physical in physical therapy, such as pediatric, geriatric, or aquatic physical therapy requires specialty certifications. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) offers certification program for specialists with sixty hours of continuing education in the last five years and 2,000 hours of relevant field exposure (www.apta.org). Successful completion APTA accredited courses allows a candidate to receive the Certification of Advanced Proficiency.
As of July 2010, physical therapist assistants held approximately 67,400 jobs, while physical therapist aids occupied approximately 47,000 jobs (www.bls.gov). Ambulatory healthcare services employ about 55% of physical therapy assistants, while hospitals employ 28%, and nursing and residential care facilities employ 12%.
Physical therapist assistants work with physical therapists, assist in setting up, and help treat patients. Figures indicate that employment for physical therapists will increase by 46% from 2013 to 2020, much faster compared to all other occupations. In addition, the demand for physical therapy services will increase in response to the growing number of American elderly population requiring more medical care. More than 71% of physical therapy jobs take place in hospitals and hospitals. Others work mainly in home healthcare services, nursing care facilities, offices of physicians, and outpatient care centers.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median earning of a physical therapist assistant is approximately $52,320. The middle 50% earn about $52,160, while the lowest 10% earn 32,420, and the highest 10% earn $72,720 (www.bls.gov). At the beginning of their careers, the average starting salary is 34,735%.
- Advancement opportunities
The level of education and years of experience are the general methods used for advancement in this field. Physical therapists may assume more responsibilities as they gain experience. There are advanced opportunities, including administrative and management roles as well as specialist positions such as working with specific groups or fields, such as youths or sports medicine. For example, an experienced physical therapist assistant may take additional course to become physical therapist.
Physical therapy assistants must licensure or certification. Applicants must have completed physical therapy assistant program accredited by CAPTE. The profession requires continuing education units in order to renew licensure or certification. In most states, licensed physical therapist assistants must continue education. Practicing professional must complete 36 hours of accredited continuing education during each three-year registration period. In addition, newly licensed physical therapy assistants must complete continuing education coursework in the first three years of active practice and registration. Physical therapy assistants should join professional societies as they provide the best means of keeping in touch and current with professional developments in the field. A broad list of such organizations is available at www.careercornrstone.org.
The field of physical therapy is dynamic and presents challenges and opportunities to professional serving in the field. The pleasure of restoring the health of an individual to his satisfaction provides the best reason to work in the field. Working with the debilitated, the elderly, and the terminally ill is a restoration to me. Instructing and educating patients as well as the general population on wellness and how to live healthily is very energizing. I was able to find that this profession requires continuous study and pays well compared to other professions. Additionally, there is opportunity for growth as one takes continuing education courses.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides, Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapist-assistants-and-aides.htm
Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), CAPTE Accreditation Handbook 2012-13 Edition, Retrieved from http://www.capteonline.org/AccreditationHandbook/
Education Portal, Physical Therapist, Retrieved from http://education-portal.com/articles/Physical_Therapist_Assistant_Educational_Requirements.html
National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE), Candidate Handbook, Retrieved from www.fsbpt.org