Physical Therapist Assistant

Ms. Alina Adams, Program Director

256.352.8332

alina.adams@wallacestate.edu

Visit the PTA Program website at http://www.wallacestate.edu/Programs/Health-Division/

Physical-Therapist-Assistant

Associate in Applied Science Degree (5 semesters)

At a Glance

To view the PTA Program of Study, please scroll down to the "Degrees and Certificates" section below, and follow the "Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) - Associate in Applied Science" link. 

The Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) is a skilled technical health care worker who assists the physical therapist in providing services that help improve mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities of patients suffering from injuries or disease. Patients include accident victims and individuals with disabling conditions such as low back pain, arthritis, heart disease, fractures, head injuries, and cerebral palsy. 

The duties of the physical therapist assistant are varied but include rehabilitation of orthopedic, neurological, pediatric, and sports-related problems. Physical therapist assistants are employed in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, skilled nursing facilities, home health care agencies, private practices, and other specialized health care settings. Once a patient is evaluated and a treatment plan is designed by the physical therapist, the physical therapist assistant can provide many aspects of treatment.

Components of treatment procedures performed by these workers involve exercise, massage, electrical stimulation, paraffin baths, hot and cold packs, traction, and ultrasound. The physical therapist assistant is responsible for reporting patient responses and treatment outcomes to the physical therapist. 

Program Description

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program is a two-year course of study. The student should complete the first year of general education course prerequisites before being eligible to apply to the PTA Program. Three semesters are necessary to complete the final year of the program. The second-year classes include technical and clinical experiences in a variety of health-care settings where the student performs selected clinical procedures under the supervision of a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant.

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Wallace State Community College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Ste 100, Alexandria, VA 22305-3085; Telephone: 703-706-3245; E-mail: accreditation@apta.org; Website: http://www.capteonline.org. Only graduates of CAPTE accredited schools will be eligible to apply for the National Licensing Examination for the Physical Therapist Assistant, administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. After successful completion of this exam, the individual can be a licensed physical therapist assistant. 

Admission Requirements

Admission to the final year of the PTA Program is made annually, with classes starting in the fall. Enrollment is limited but there is not a waiting list; all eligible applicants are considered for admission. Students are selected on the basis of completion of program application requirements, prerequisite GPA, and ACT test scores. Applications will be accepted from March 1 until June 1 for classes that begin each fall term. Applications received after the deadline will be considered on a space-available basis. No application will be received or considered after the start of the fall semester. See the program application, available through the program website, for additional information. 

Applicant Information

  1. Unconditional admission to the college required – college application must be submitted prior to the program application deadline. 
  2. Student must be in good standing with the college.
  3. A complete PTA program application must be received between March 1 and June 1 for fall entry. Applications received after the deadline will be considered on a space-available basis. 
  4. The PTA program online application is located on program’s webpage at www.wallacestate.edu - see online application instructions under the PTA Program Application tab. All applicants are required to upload all necessary documentation for consideration. 
  5. Official transcripts from each college attended must be provided to the Admissions Office and a copy of all unofficial transcripts must be uploaded to the online application.
  6. Student must meet the essential functions and technical standards required for the program as documented on the required WSCC physical form at www.wallacestate.edu -see Physical Form Essential Functions on the Health Division page. 
  7. A minimum of 20 ACT composite score (National or Residual) is required for admission consideration. Proof of score must be uploaded to online application. Higher scores will receive more points in the application process.
  8. Documentation of a minimum of 24 hours of observation at not less than 2 different facilities; this paper work must be signed by the Licensed Physical Therapist or Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant under whom this observation was completed. Additional hours will receive more points in the application process. This documentation must be uploaded to the online application. 
  9. Applicants must possess a minimum of 3.0 or greater grade point average on a 4.0 scale with a “C” or better in all general required courses. GPA points calculated for program selection will be on the general required prerequisite courses only. Students who have successfully completed all of the prerequisite courses will be considered for admission first. Students who have not completed all prerequisites will be considered thereafter only if space is available and provided that submitted documentation reflects that prerequisites will be successfully completed prior to the program start date.

It is the responsibility of each applicant to ensure that the application submitted is complete and that all required information is submitted to the appropriate offices. Any piece of missing documentation will result in the application submission not being considered. Each time an applicant reapplies to the program the online application must be completed again. Retain copies of every item uploaded, as this information will not be released from submitted applications.

Selection and Notification

  1. The PTA Program admits students in the fall semester of each year. Admission to the program is competitive, and the number of students admitted is limited by faculty and clinical availability. Meeting minimal requirements does not guarantee acceptance. Please see the program application posted online to review the process and visit the PTA Program website for statistics for recently admitted classes. 
  2. Applicants are ranked on the basis of a formula that weighs the grades in prerequisite courses, observation hours and ACT score. All applicants who meet the minimum requirements are considered; however, the higher an applicant’s prerequisite GPA, observation hours and ACT score, the better his/her chances for admission. Additional points will also be added to the ranking for individuals who have completed PTA 120 or both MSG 104 and MSG 204 at WSCC. (Additional points will only be available for WSCC PTA 120 or WSCC MSG 104/204, not both. If an applicant has completed both, the higher of the two point values will be added.) 
  3. In the event of a tie for program admission, the applicant with the highest numerical average in PTA 120 (first attempt) will be accepted. If this does not fully resolve the tie, the program will then consider highest GPA points followed by highest ACT composite score followed by highest ACT reading subscore. Written notification of the outcome will be emailed to each applicant at the email address provided on the application.
  4. Program applications will be reviewed for completion of program admission requirements. Written notification of program acceptance status will be sent to each applicant via information supplied on the program application. 
  5. Following acceptance into the program, students must respond confirming their intent to enroll by using the internet link provided on their letter, by the deadline indicated on the letter. A student who fails to respond will forfeit his/her place in the class
  6. Students who are accepted into the program and are not eligible to register for classes by the day of program orientation due to failing to meet the financial aid deadline must make alternate payment arrangements or forfeit their place in the class. The WSCC financial aid deadline for fall is usually June 1 each year - refer to the financial aid website for details. This deadline includes the FAFSA and all required paperwork. 

Program Expectations

 Students admitted into the Physical Therapist Assistant program are expected to comply with the Health Science Programs regulations and expectations as published in the Programs of Study section of the Wallace State College Catalog and on the college website.

Upon Admission

Following official acceptance into the program students will be required to submit a physical examination form (current within one year), which includes documentation of immunizations along with evidence of having begun the Hepatitis B vaccinations. Also upon acceptance, students will be required to document successful completion of American Heart Association approved CPR for Healthcare Providers certification, valid through September of the following year. Additionally, students must be able to meet all Performance Standards/Essential Functions as published on the program website. Students will also be required to successfully complete a background check and drug screening. PTA students must carry liability insurance and accident insurance, which are available through the College, as well as personal health insurance. Do not complete any of these (CPR, physical exam, background check or drug screening) until instructed to do so by the program director.

Progression

Students selected for admission to the PTA Program must maintain a minimum grade of 75% or higher in major required courses. Failure to do so, or withdrawal from a PTA major required course, will result in dismissal from the program.

Students are required to pass the PTA Exit Exam in PTA 201. Failure to pass the exit exam will result in a failing grade for PTA 201, regardless of other grades or competencies achieved. See the PTA Program Student Handbook or PTA 201 syllabus for further information.

Readmission to Program

Applicants who have been previously dismissed or have withdrawn from the program may be readmitted one time only. A new application must be submitted to be considered. No preferential consideration is given to prior students for readmission.

Career Path 

The high school student interested in a career in physical therapy should pursue advanced math and science courses to prepare for success in college. Upon completion of the PTA Program, graduates are eligible to sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination for the Physical Therapist Assistant, achieving licensure and therefore employability throughout the United States. Due to the diversity of patients seen and the variety of clinical settings available, PTAs can specialize in the care of one patient group or experience a variety of employment options. A PTA can also advance their clinical skills through professional continuing education. PTAs interested in administrative positions can continue their education by pursuing a Health Science degree or a degree in Health Care Management from a university, many of whom may recognize the PTA Program year as elective credit. Consult the STARS transfer guide for further information. The PTA program is not usually a direct pathway to becoming a physical therapist although a limited number of programs do exist that link the two. The individual who wishes to become a physical therapist will pursue a Doctorate in Physical Therapy and should take bachelor or master level course work appropriate to the program to which they plan to apply. Further information about PTA and PTA education is available through the American Physical Therapy Association website at www.apta.org

The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook, anticipates that positions for physical therapist assistants will increase much faster than average, growing by 32% in 2020-2030 and that long-term demand will continue to rise, in accordance with the increasing number of individuals with disabilities or limited function. The growing elderly population is particularly vulnerable to chronic and debilitating conditions that require therapeutic services, making the role of the PT/PTA team vital. In addition, future medical developments should permit an increased percentage of trauma victims to survive, creating added demand for therapy services. Physical therapists are expected to increasingly utilize assistants to reduce the cost of physical therapy services. Median annual earnings of physical therapist assistants were $59,770 in May 2020, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $82,470. (Source: U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Degrees and Certificates

Classes

PTA 120 : Introduction to Kinesiology

This course is an introduction to the clinically oriented study of functional anatomy. Emphasis is placed on a beginning level of understanding of the musculoskeletal system and nervous system as they relate to human movement. Upon completion of the course, the student should be able to identify basic anatomical structures involved in human movements.

Credits

3

Prerequisites

Does not require program admission. 

PTA 200 : PT Issues and Trends

This is an introductory course to the trends and issues in PT Emphasis is placed on areas such as: history, practice issues, psychosocial aspects of illness and cultural diversity. Upon completion, the student should be able to discuss trends and issues relevant to physical therapy.

Credits

2

Prerequisites

Requires program acceptance. 

PTA 201 : PTA Seminar

This course is a continuing study of issues and trends in PT practice. Emphasis is placed on issues such as: licensure, job skills, board exam review, practitioner roles, legal and ethical issues. Upon completion, the student should have acquired necessary skills for transition from student to practitioner.

Credits

2

Prerequisites

PTA 202 : PTA Communication Skills

This course is the study of verbal and nonverbal communication and documentation in health care. Emphasis will be placed on terminology, format, computer usage, reimbursement, interpersonal communication, and legal issues. Upon completion, students should be able to discuss and demonstrate communication methods for achieving effective interaction with patients, families, the public and other health care providers.

Credits

2

Prerequisites

Requires program acceptance. 

PTA 220 : Functional Anatomy and Kinesiology

This course provides an in-depth, clinically oriented study of functional anatomy. Emphasis is placed on musculoskeletal system, nervous system, and study of human movement. Upon completion of the course, the student should be able to identify specific anatomical structures and analyze human movements.

Credits

3

Prerequisites

Requires program acceptance. 

PTA 222 : Functional Anatomy and Kinesiology Lab

This laboratory course allows for a hands-on appreciation of anatomical structures and kinesiological concepts as they relate to therapeutic exercise. Emphasis may include muscle and joint function, testing applications and therapeutic exercise. Upon completion, the student should be able to integrate content areas into an understanding of normal human movement.

Credits

2

Prerequisites

Requires program acceptance. 

PTA 230 : Neuroscience

This course provides students with an overview of the neuroanatomy of the CNS and PNS, as it relates to the treatment necessary for patients with dysfunctions of these systems. Emphasis may include the structure and function of the nervous system, neurophysiological concepts, human growth and development, and neurologic dysfunctions. Upon completion of this course, the student should be able to identify and discuss specific anatomical structures and function of the nervous system and basic concepts of human growth and development, and identify neurologic pathologies.

Credits

2

Prerequisites

Requires program acceptance. 

PTA 231 : Rehabilitation Techniques

This course allows for hands on appreciation of advanced rehabilitation techniques. Emphasis is on orthopedic and neurologic treatment techniques, therapeutic exercise procedures and analysis and treatment of pathologic gait. Upon completion, the student should be able to demonstrate an understanding of advanced rehabilitation techniques appropriate to orthopedic and neurologic dysfunctions.

Credits

2

Prerequisites

Requires program acceptance. 

PTA 232 : Orthopedics for the PTA

This course provides the student with an overview of orthopedic conditions seen in physical therapy. Emphasis is on the study of orthopedic conditions and appropriate physical therapy intervention and a review of related anatomical structures. Upon completion of the course, the student should be able to discuss PT interventions for common orthopedic conditions.

Credits

2

Prerequisites

Requires program acceptance. 

PTA 240 : Physical Disabilities I

This course presents the student with a body systems approach to the etiology, pathology, signs/symptom and treatment of conditions seen in PT. Emphasis may include conditions most commonly treated in physical therapy. Upon completion, the student should be able to discuss basic pathological processes, treatment options and prognoses of conditions studied.

Credits

2

Prerequisites

Requires program acceptance. 

PTA 241 : Physical Disabilities II

This course continues a body systems study of common PT pathologies. Emphasis may include various neurological pathologies with additional focus on the needs of special populations. Upon completion, the student should be able to discuss the PT intervention appropriate to a variety of diagnoses.

Credits

2

Prerequisites

PTA 250 : Therapeutic Procedures I

This laboratory course provides a hands on introduction to the principles and procedures of therapeutic physical therapy intervention. Emphasis is on basic patient care skills and procedures utilized in physical therapy. Upon completion, the student should be able to demonstrate safe and effective delivery of those procedures with an in-depth understanding of the rationale for each treatment.

Credits

4

Prerequisites

Requires program acceptance. 

PTA 251 : Therapeutic Procedures II

This laboratory course is a continued study of the principles and procedures of therapeutic PT intervention. Emphasis is on advanced physical therapy interventions and procedures and their rationale. Upon completion, the student should be able to demonstrate safe and effective delivery with an in-depth understanding of each.

Credits

4

Prerequisites

PTA 258 : Introduction to the Clinical Environment

This course is an introduction to the expectations and legal requirements of the clinical environment. Emphasis is placed on personal and client safety, personal integrity and accountability, and universal clinical expectations. Upon completion, the student should be able to demonstrate pre-clinical competency in clinically relevant topics such HIPAA regulations, universal precautions, safety regulations and expectations, and the clinical expectations of the home institution.

Credits

1

Prerequisites

Requires program acceptance. 

PTA 260 : Clinical Education I

This clinical experience is designed to introduce the student to the practice of physical therapy through interaction in the health care environment. The course entails on-going communication between the clinical instructor, student and course coordinator. Upon completion of this course, the student should be able to safely and effectively apply procedures and techniques previously attained in the classroom.

Credits

1

Prerequisites

Requires program acceptance. 

PTA 266 : Clinical Field Work I

This clinical class will provide an intensive and extended clinical interaction in the health care environment. The course entails on-going communication between the clinical instructor, student, and course coordinator. The student will safely and effectively apply procedures and techniques previously attained in the classroom.

Credits

2

Prerequisites

Requires program acceptance. 

PTA 268 : Clinical Practicum

This clinical education experience allows the student to practice in the health care environment, using entry level skills attained in previous classroom instruction. The course entails on-going communication between the clinical instructor, student, and course coordinator. Upon completion of this course, the student should be able to demonstrate entry level competency in those skills necessary for functioning as a physical therapist assistant.

Credits

5

Prerequisites

Requires program acceptance. 

PTA 290 : Therapeutic Exercise

This lab course covers exercise techniques commonly used in PTA practice. It may include aquatics, isometric, isotonic, isokinetic, plyometric, Swiss ball and aerobic exercises. Upon completion of the course, the student should have entry level skills in exercise application.

Credits

1

Prerequisites

Requires program acceptance. 

PTA 293 : Directed Study for PTA

This course is designed to increase the opportunity for exploring, reading and reporting on specific topics related to the field of physical therapy. Emphasis is placed on the development of knowledge in an area of interest to the student. The student should be able to meet the objectives of the course as approved by the instructor. As needed.

Credits

1

Prerequisites

Requires program acceptance.