Physical Therapy Assistant
Physical, Occupational and Speech
Our therapists evaluate each patient’s physical impairments and functional limitations
and establish a plan of care in cohesion with the patient’s physician in order to achieve
optimal rehab outcomes.
Physical Therapist Assistant
To work in this profession, you must earn an associate degree from a physical therapist assistant training program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). For a list of CAPTE-accredited programs, visit the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) website. There you will also find a wealth of information about this occupation.
In every state in the United States, physical therapist assistants must have a license to practice. This includes Hawaii, which until December 2014 did not require one. All candidates for licensure must take the National Physical Therapy Exam, administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT).
Each state’s physical therapy board may have additional requirements. You can find their contact information on the FSBPT website.
Physical Therapist Assistant Skills & Competencies
As with most careers, there are general skills not specific to the field that will help you succeed as a physical therapist assistant. Some of these include:
- Active Listening: You must be able to listen carefully to your patients’ questions and concerns about their treatment.
- Verbal Communication: Your patients must be able to understand your instructions for their treatment to be successful.
- Interpersonal Skills: In addition to listening and speaking skills, you need other communication skills that will facilitate your interactions with your patients and colleagues. You need to be able to coordinate your actions with others, and you must be aware of people’s reactions even if they don’t verbalize them.
- Service Orientation: To be successful in any healthcare career, you need a strong desire to help people.
- Reading Comprehension: You must be able to understand doctors’ and other healthcare professionals’ written instructions.
- Critical Thinking: When you have to solve problems, you need the ability to weigh the potential success of possible solutions before choosing one.
Physical therapists can work in PT practices, hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers. The BLS notes that physical therapists spend much of their time on their feet. They are vulnerable to back injuries and so must be careful to use proper techniques when lifting and moving patients.
Jobs are typically full time, although some aides have part-time schedules. Patient schedules often require work on weekends, evenings, and holidays. Overnight shifts and live-in shifts are not uncommon.
- Assist as necessary in patient evaluation under the direction and assistance of a Registered Therapist.
- You will keep the treatment area clean and organized.
- Provide follow-up treatment and feedback to the staff therapist to effectively plan for discharge.
- Assist in the development of treatment plans.
- Document patient progress toward meeting established goals.
- Instruct residents’ families or nursing staff in follow-through programs.