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Health Professions: Physical Therapist Assistant: PTA FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the difference between a physical therapist (PT) and a physical therapist assistant (PTA)?
  2. What is the difference between a physical therapist (PT) and an occupational therapist (OT)?
  3. Will I be able to get a job after graduation?
  4. Can a PTA become a PT?
  5. What courses do I need to take before applying to the program?
  6. What are the technical standards for entry into the PTA program?
  7. How many applicants are admitted to the program each year?
  8. What is the total cost of the program?
  9. What CPR certification is accepted by the program?
  10. Are classes available online, part-time, and at different campuses?
  11. Can I work full-time during the program?

 

  1. What is the difference between a physical therapist (PT) and a physical therapist assistant (PTA)?

    A PT holds a doctorate degree.  They are responsible for performing initial evaluations for new patients, providing higher-level skills such as joint mobilization, and supervising PTA.

     

    A PTA earns an associate’s degree in applied science, holds a state license to practice and works under the supervision of a PT. They perform the majority of direct patient care once the Physical Therapist has established a treatment plan. 

                                                                                                                                                                            
  2. What is the difference between a physical therapist (PT) and an occupational therapist (OT)?

    PTs and OTs often work together. PTs focus on restoring mobility while OTs focus on restoring self-care skills.

  3. Will I be able to get a job after graduation?

    Employment opportunities for PTAs are growing due to the rising costs of healthcare, an increase in the number of elderly and an increase in the number of sports injuries among adolescents. Over the past two years, all graduates from this program found employment either during their final clinical rotation or shortly after graduation.

  4.  

  5. Can a PTA become a PT?

    A PTA can become a PT. You must complete a Bachelor’s Degree in a related field such as Exercise Science or Biology. Then you apply to the PT program, which awards the successful candidate an entry-level doctorate degree.                                                                                                                                                                                                              

  6. What courses do I need to take before applying to the program?
     
      • BIO 141 (Human Anatomy and Physiology I)*
      • ENG 111 (College Composition I)*
      • HLT 130 (Nutrition and Diet Therapy)
      • PSY 230 (Developmental Psychology)
      • SDV 101 (Orientation to Healthcare)
      • Demonstrate at least MTE 5 (high school algebra) competence*

      *BIO 141 may require that you first take NAS 2 if you have never taken or have not recently taken high school or college biology (BIO 1, BIO 100, BIO 101). If you are unsure if you need to take one of these classes please speak to the Counseling Center by calling 757-822-7211.

      *ENG 111 may require that you first take an English placement test to check your reading and writing skills. If you are unsure if you need to take a placement test and/or complete development coursework, speak to the Counseling Center by calling (757) 822-7211.

      *In the event that you are admitted into the PTA program, PTH 121 requires you to demonstrate math competence at the MTE 5 level.  This may require you take a math placement test and complete developmental coursework.  If you are unsure if you need to take a placement test and/or complete development coursework, speak to the Counseling Center by calling (757) 822-7211.

       
  7. What are the technical standards for entry into the PTA program?                                                                                                                                                              Satisfactory verbal, reading, and written skills to effectively and promptly communicate in English. Sufficient eyesight to read paper or computer generated medical records; read instrument panels; apply therapeutic modalities such as ice, heat, and electrical stimulation; monitor patients for adverse reactions to treatment; adjust assistive devices; and make visual observations regarding posture and functional abilities (bed mobility, transfers, and ambulation).Sufficient hearing to communicate with patients and other members of the healthcare team, monitor patients by hearing instrument signals and alarms. Sufficient smell to assess patient status and maintain a safe practice environment.Sufficient fine touch discrimination to palpate pathologic changes in soft tissue. Sufficient fine and gross motor coordination to manipulate/operate equipment controls and to perform manual treatment/assessment techniques including, but not limited to, massage; ultrasound; electrical stimulation; stretching; neuromuscular re-education; goniometry; and manual muscle testing. Satisfactory physical strength to transport, move or lift patient requiring all levels of assistance and to perform prolonged periods of standing, walking, sitting, bending, crawling, reaching, pushing, and pulling.Satisfactory intellectual, emotional, and interpersonal skills to ensure patient safety; exercise independent judgment and discretion in the performance of assigned responsibilities, and interact with patients, families, and other health care workers.                                                                                                                                                      
  8. How many applicants are admitted to the program each  year?                                                                                                                                                      
  9.                                                                                                                                                                          25-30 applicants are admitted each year. More information can be found in the PTA program packet. 

     

  10. What is the total cost of the program? 
  11.  

    The program consists of 67 credit hours spread over five semesters. Current rates can be found on TCC's tuition webpage.  See Program Overview for total cost of program.                      

      

  12. What CPR certification is accepted by the program?   

     

     TCC's PTA program accepts CPR certification from American Heart Association (BLS for Healthcare Providers) and American Red Cross (CPR/AED for Professional Rescuers and Health Care Providers).

    CPR certification from online courses or Heart Saver are not acceptable.

          

  13. Are classes available online, part-time, and at different campuses?

     

    The program only offers traditional face-to-face classes, full-time during daytime hours, at the Virginia Beach campus.

     

  14. Can I work full-time during the program?                                                    

 

 

Due to time requirements, students who need to work do so on a part-time basis during evenings and on weekends.  Keep in mind that you will attend three full-time (40 hours/week) clinical rotations during the program: PTH 131 (4 weeks), PTH 251 (6 weeks), and PTH 252 (6 weeks).