Welcome to our website on the career of a physical therapy assistant. In this article we will be discussing everything you need to know about training programs for this career. Like anything else, there are many offerings, but it will take careful deliberation and investigation to uncover what could prove to be the best opportunities for you.
My recommendation is simply this, take your time, and gather as much information as possible in order to be able to cull those enterprises that simply want your money, from those that can get you started on a rewarding career.
Once you have been able to reduce your list down to a manageable 10 choices, I urge you to complete a cost benefit analysis to identify your top three choices. If you have included everything that is important to you, including costs, location, academic reputation, and student diversity, you should have a pretty good idea of where you should apply for admissions.
The reason I recommend a top three, is the fact that it is possible that you might be unable to gain admission to your first choice of pta schools and having a back-up is a logical alternative. You may want to expand your list to five programs, and apply to each one. The best situation is the ability to have a choice among the schools that have sent admittance letters, and accepting the top program on your list.
One of the first things you are going to need to be aware of is, if the program is accredited through the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. This is the only accreditation body recognized by the US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
CAPTE is responsible for providing accreditation only to entry-level education programs for all physical therapists and physical therapy assistant in the nation. Unless you graduate from a CAPTE accredited program, you will be unable to qualify for the licensing examination. As of September 2011, there are over 275 accredited physical therapist assistant programs in the US, with another 55 in development for accreditation.
Online Programs or Vocational Schools
There are many adults who would benefit from the opportunity to study this occupation through an online academic institution. Once again, I caution that the first thing to consider is, if the training programs are accredited through CAPTE. Just so you know, CAPTE will not accredit any online or distance-learning program that doesn’t include, hands on practice labs or field clinical internships for a fully rounded learning experience.
If any distance learning school or program claims that the entire course can be accomplished strictly online, you will know that this is not an accredited program, and you will not be able to legally practice this occupation, because you will be unable to be licensed.
Sure, many distance learning programs are attractive not only because they are often far less expensive than onsite campus programs, and they can possibly accommodate your lifestyle in a more convenient manner, but sometimes just the daily personal interaction can provide a better learning experience for each participating student.
At least, the future networking experiences are much better when you have toiled and studied with other students for the same ultimate goal, that of earning a substantial salary, and the personal rewards of a healthcare career helping people overcome physical obstacles and medical traumas.
Programs and Academics
When making school comparisons to evaluate the best academic attributes of each institution, some of the details that you should be aware of are:
- Diversity of student population, including ethnicity, adult learners etc.
- Percentage of students accepted for admissions, a low percentage rate means that it may be very difficult to gain admission
- Class sizes, larger classes may be less expensive, but will also mean less individual attention
- Support systems, school counselors can help when a student is experiencing difficulties, or needs guidance
Surrounding community, what is there to see and do, and socialize
- Job placement, is there a good track record of helping graduates find work
- Percentage of graduates from enrollee’s, if the program experiences a high dropout rate they may be enrolling too many unqualified applicants incapable of handling the workload
- School reputation
I hope that the above information will help you avoid the many mistakes that the uninformed make when beginning new careers. If physical therapy is your career choice, and you thoroughly research as many physical therapy assistant programs as possible, you should be well on your way to a productive future.