With the recent rise in healthcare related jobs, one that is projected to continue for quite a few years to come, becoming a physical therapy assistant can be a great career path for many.It is a hand-on job that those who enjoy working directly with the public will probably enjoy, and a highly valued position to the medical facilities in need of assistants. As with any course of study though, understanding what to expect in regard to schooling and job offerings afterward is an important part of deciding whether or not this course of study is for you; learning about physical therapy assistant colleges and programs should give a good idea on whether or not this seems like the right profession to become involved in.Types of Physical Therapy Assistant Colleges and Programs that Are AvailableAs with many of the different assistant and technician jobs in the medical field today, there are a few different kinds of learning programs available to those who want to become employed in the field of physical therapy, though there are distinct differences in the titles received with different training.Those who attend short training courses that typically last a number of months, and get much of their training through hands on experience are generally employed as a physical therapy aide, which is a wonderful profession in its own, but quite different than becoming a PTA.With the lesser educational requirements, aides typically have much lower responsibility, as well as little patient contact and lower salary.On the other hand, those in study to become a physical therapy assistant are required to attend courses to obtain their Associates’ in Applied Science degree for Physical Therapy.Once they have reached this goal, students earn the title of Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA), and are able to apply for licensure in their state. License to practice as a PTA is required in 48 of 50 US states today.What is ironic is that in the UK, where in most cases assistants and technicians involved in healthcare have considerably more strict requirements and qualifications, a person may be employed as a physiotherapy assistant without schooling other than the necessary GCSEs. There are specialist positions available, which do require continued education and work experience, however.PTA Colleges and Course InformationCollege courses that award students with the title of PTA and qualify them to apply for state licensure cover many different topics related to the medical field, not just classes directly related to therapy.It is important for students to be well rounded in general, as well as understand the entire workings of the human body, and the healthcare business as it relates to physical therapy and the many different job settings a PTA might work in. Standard study topics include courses in English, Social Sciences, Psychology and Communication.Specialized classes generally include Anatomy, Physical Therapy, Kinesiology, Pathophysiology, Rehabilitation, First Aid/CPR, Massage, electrical stimulation, ultrasound and other therapeutic treatments and many other, more specialized topics.Additionally, in order to graduate and earn their PTA, students must fulfill a required amount of externship hours; in most Associates’ degree programs students participate in on the job work-study during the last two to three semesters of their education.Including these externships, graduating with a PTA usually takes an average of 20 months in the US today. Professional organizations in the medical industry report that there is a push to change educational requirements for physical therapy assistants to a 4-year Bachelors degree in the future, too.Though it may seem like a long time, earning a 2-year Associates’ degree it is the best way to enter this type of medical field. Having any degree at all is preferable to simply attending vocational classes, besides the fact that with that head start, it is easy for a PTA to continue education to become a licensed physical therapist, or even enter a different medical profession.The word “assistant” should not fool anyone into thinking the position is not an important and demanding, however. Physical therapy assistants are required to perform and track all prescribed therapy, and actually spend more time with the patient than the therapist does.Knowing this, attending the most reputable physical therapy assistant colleges is the best way to get the necessary education, pass the licensing exam and move on to a most rewarding lifetime career.
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