How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant

How to Become a Physical Therapist AssistantIn December 2019, a new film available on the Amazon Prime Video streaming platform made news headlines among movie fans who also work in the field of physical therapy. “ASIAA” is directed by Andrew Reid, a filmmaker whose life was completely transformed by a medical emergency he suffered while he was a college student in Florida. An unusual condition caused a number of blood vessels on Reid’s lower back to become tangled and interfere with enough spinal nerve pairs to leave Reid completely paralyzed while enjoying spring break in Mexico.

What is interesting about “ASIA A” is that it is a story about the work of physical therapy assistants. Many films focus on the struggle of patients who must struggle and overcome odds as they complete physical therapy sessions, but this one turns things around by showing how healthcare professionals become deeply involved in the rehabilitation of their patients. Physical therapy professionals, both physicians and particularly their assistants, often face challenges that seem insurmountable in terms of being able to witness a full rehabilitation for their patients, and this is just one of the many rewards of this profession.

What Does a Physical Therapist Assistant Do

According to the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, physiatrists are physicians who go through medical school followed by a four-year residency term. There are also Doctors of Physical Therapy who go through a four-year degree program before entering a higher education program that takes about three to four years before residency and fellowship periods. A physical therapist assistant works under the supervision of physicians for the purpose of helping patients rehabilitate after injuries or illnesses.

If you are interested in becoming a physical therapy assistant, you can expect to perform the following duties:

  • Educate patients and their loved ones on treatment plans
  • Keep detailed records of the progress of patients
  • Provide therapeutic massage sessions that can not only help to relieve pain but also increase blood flow and ease tension on muscle tissue
  • Help patients ease into prosthetic devices
  • Provide physical therapy treatment at the homes of some patients

How Long Does It Take to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant

Florida National University offers a Physical Therapist Assistant Associate of Science degree program that many students can complete in less than two years. This program is duly accredited by the National Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. FNU offers the flexibility of completing some coursework online, but this is a program that requires at least three hands-on clinical practicum courses and considerable classroom time. After graduating from this program, you will be prepared to challenge the examination portion of the Florida Board of Physical Therapy, a necessary step to become licensed.

FNU’s Physical Therapy Assistant Program

Admission into this program is selective. FNU will allow 30 students to enroll during mid-July each year. Unlike other degree programs offered by FNU, this one runs on a full-time basis at the Hialeah Campus. Some of the courses within the curriculum include:

  • Biomedical Ethics
  • General Psychology
  • Algebra
  • Medical Terminology
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Functional Anatomy and Kinesiology
  • Therapeutic Exercise

For more information about the admissions process and the various requirements for this program, contact one of our counselors today.

As a private college serving the South Florida community, FNU offers assistance to prospective students seeking financial aid. You will be allowed to apply for various scholarships; furthermore, you will also be encouraged to take advantage of our vibrant student life activities and community outreach programs.

Physical Therapist Assistant Salary and Outlook

Citing data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the American Physical Therapy Association reports that the national median salary for therapist assistants was $52,000 in 2017. With regard to the outlook in terms of demand, this occupational field is expected to grow much faster than the national average over the next few years. By the year 2028, demand for physical therapy assistants will have increased by more than 25%, about 38,000 more positions than today.

It should be noted that job demand for this profession will generally be higher in the South Florida region because this is a part of the country with an elderly population on the rise. When you are ready to take the first step towards becoming a physical therapy assistant, FNU admissions advisers will be ready to explain the selective process. Contact our office today and learn more about how you can prepare for this rewarding career.