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Frequently Asked Questions

Associate in Applied Science Degree (M)

What is a Physical Therapist Assistant?
Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs) engage in a variety of activities. The primary responsibility of a PTA is to assist Physical Therapists (PTs) in providing physical therapy interventions. This may include a variety of duties ranging from helping patients perform exercises which increase strength and mobility to assisting in everyday activities such as walking, climbing stairs and dressing.

What type of licensure will I receive?
Individuals who complete the Associate in Applied Science degree in Physical Therapist Assistant are eligible to sit for the national licensure test.

Is the Physical Therapist Assistant program accredited?
Yes, by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.

What are the prerequisite requirements?
The PTA program has selective admission requirements. To be considered for the program, students must have a complete file. Check with the program chair or an academic adviser for a complete list of prerequisite courses.

What salary should I expect as a Physical Therapist Assistant?
The entry level wage in teh St. Louis region is $19.95/hr, $37K/yr.

For more information check out additional insight:

Where do students complete their required clinical hours and how many hours are required?
The PTA program has clinical contracts with many facilities in the St. Louis area, as well as facilities throughout Missouri. In addition, we also have contracts in Illinois and other surrounding states. Our contracts include hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, outpatient facilities and schools. There are three different clinical courses in the last year of the program for a total of 15 weeks. All clinical assignments are full-time, 40 hours per week. Note: Hospitals and facilities may mandate that a criminal background check and/or drug screening check (at the student’s expense) be conducted prior to placement in a clinical or field setting. Students not passing these checks may be prohibited from participating in the clinical or field experience, thus rendering the student ineligible to satisfactorily meet the course/program requirements.

If I complete the Physical Therapist Assistant Associate in Applied Science degree, can I then transfer that to a Physical Therapy degree?
The AAS in Physical Therapist Assistant is not equivalent to the first two years of a doctoral degree in Physical Therapy.

When are the courses offered?
The PTA program is a full-time day program. Each year, 32 students are accepted into the fall semester. The first year of study consists mainly of liberal arts coursework with PTA:100 Introduction to Physical Therapist Assistant offered in the fall semester, and PTA:214 Assessment Skills offered in the spring semester. The summer immediately following the first year, students will continue into PTA:105 Fundamentals of Physical Therapist Assistant. The second year of the program consists solely of PTA courses.

Where do graduates find jobs?
Graduates of this program are employed in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, outpatient clinics, skilled nursing facilities and schools. Duties may vary depending upon the type of institution and the number of therapists and assistants employed.

What is the difference between an athletic trainer and a physical therapist assistant?

Athletic Trainers
Education -- a bachelor’s degree in athletic training from a CAAHEP-accredited program is the current entry-level requirement.  Students will need to sit for a national licensing exam in the state of Missouri.

Job Market -- the Bureau of Labor Statistics comments on athletic training job market, projected job growth and salaries.

Job Conditions -- athletic trainers work under the direction of a physician and are involved in daily communications with coaches, athletes, parents, athletic administrators and other health care professionals. They assist athletes with the psychology of injury. They frequently work weekends and evening hours due to sideline work at games and to accommodate work/school and practice schedules of athletes.

Resource: National Athletic Trainers Association

Seeing Athletes as a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA)
Education --
a PTA must graduate from an accredited program with a minimum AAS degree and pass the PTA licensure exam before practicing as a licensed PTA in the state of Missouri.

How do PTAs interact with athletic patients?
A PTA license allows you to work under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist and see many kinds of patients, including athletes, although you are ethically obligated to make sure you have adequate knowledge in athletics.

Job conditions for PT
Most athletes are treated by PTs. PTAs can work with athletes under the direction and supervision of the PT. Most athletes are seen for therapy in outpatient facilities. You may find that you have to work some early morning or early evening hours to accommodate patients who are working or attending school. If you are a new employee, you may work more early morning or evening hours if your clinic assigns these times to people with low seniority.

Job market -- the Bureau of Labor Statistics comments on the physical therapy job market, job growth and salaries.

Resource: American Physical Therapy Association