Physical Therapist Assistant

Physical Therapist Assistant

Associate in Applied Science (AAS)

Offered through Health Sciences

@ Meramec

This program prepares you to assist physical therapists in providing therapy services to a variety of patients. This often includes helping patients perform exercises in order to increase strength and mobility and enabling patients to perform everyday activities like walking, climbing stairs and dressing.

Required Courses

The semester-by-semester plan blends general education requirements with options for areas of concentration to ensure students get the most out of their certificate or degree.

Completion of the program requires two full academic years and the intervening summer semester, beginning in the fall. In the first year, students take general education and related science courses. During the second year, students concentrate solely on core PTA courses, some of which involve full-time clinical work that provides valuable, real-world experience to prepare for a professional career. Students must take the PTA courses in the sequence and semester in which they appear in the course of study.

Program Coordinator

Christie Cohoon, PT, DPT, OCS

Email

ccohoon1@stlcc.edu

Phone

314-984-7591

Overview

The Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) is an Associate in Applied Science degree and is a 68-credit-hour program that prepares students for a career in physical therapy. The Physical Therapist Assistant program can help students achieve a rewarding career that makes a difference in people’s lives. Along with other health care practitioners, PTAs help people regain their lives after illness or trauma. To achieve the goals established by the physical therapist, the PTA helps patients:

• Improve strength and mobility
• Relieve pain
• Regain the use of an affected limb
• Learn to use artificial limbs, braces, crutches and wheelchairs
• Improve overall fitness

Completion of the program requires two full academic years and the intervening summer semester, beginning in the fall. In the first year, students take general education and related science courses. During the second year, students concentrate solely on core PTA courses, some of which involve full-time clinical work that provides valuable, real-world experience to prepare for a professional career. 

Accreditation

CAPTE logoThe PTA program at St. Louis Community College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email: accreditation@apta.org; website: capteonline.org. If needing to contact the PTA Program directly, please call Christie Cohoon at 314-984-7591 or email ccohoon1@stlcc.edu.

Clinical Experience

The program includes 15 weeks of full-time clinical experience under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist or physical therapist assistant:

  • STLCC has clinical contracts with many facilities in the St. Louis area, as well as throughout Missouri, 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.
  • The PTA program develops these clinical sites and is responsible for assigning each student. The student is not responsible for establishing his/her own clinical placements.

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 and program requirements.

Licensure

Upon completion of this program students earn an Associate in Applied Science degree and are eligible to sit for the national licensure examination for the physical therapist assistant administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). Licensure is required in Missouri and most other states.

 

St. Louis Community College's PTA program was established in 1984 and is the oldest PTA program in the St. Louis metropolitan area. It is a well-established, affordable program with an excellent pass rate. The program has a very low attrition rate and a high licensure exam pass rates.

Many of the professional courses in the second year of the program require additional hours in the afternoon for completion of practical evaluation. See the program director for specific questions regarding scheduling of courses.

Once admitted to the program, science and professional courses must be taken, as outlined, in the proper sequence and within the prescribed time frame. See the semester-by-semester plan.

Students from the Meramec PTA program have received the Outstanding Missouri Student Physical Therapist Assistant award for five years since 2013. This affirms the quality of program and the students it produces.

Because of the heavy academic and clinical load, students should not anticipate holding full-time jobs while enrolled in the program.

Each year, 27 students are accepted on a first come – first serve basis, with five positions available for potential early admission for individuals who already have earned a bachelor’s degree.

In order to facilitate the entry of students in the available spaces, a waiting list is used. A student is placed on the waiting list once program application prerequisites have been met and a program application has been submitted. Placement on the waiting list is based solely on the date of application. Students will be sent a letter each fall while on the list asking for their intentions to pursue admission to the program. Failure to respond to this letter by the deadline will result in removal from the list. Letters will be sent in the spring to those being offered admission to the program in the fall semester. All those receiving letters must attend a mandatory program orientation scheduled in late April/early May.

The PTA program is a selective admission, college-level program. Students must have successfully completed specific requirements prior to application, including:

  • high school or college cumulative grade point average of 2.5
  • minimum placement test scores or successful completion of specific courses
  • successful completion of “Intro to Biology” or Biology 111 within the last five years

The Associate in Applied Science degree for Physical Therapist Assistant is not equivalent to the first two years of a doctoral degree in Physical Therapy.

Credits that transfer: STLCC’s Physical Therapist Assistant program has established an articulation agreement with Maryville University for the benefit of students who wish to continue their education and earn a Bachelor of Arts in Practice Management, or a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership.

PTA Program Admission Requirements

In compliance with St. Louis Community College policies, the PTA Program is committed to non-discrimination with respect to race, color, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, disability, genetic information or status as a disabled or Vietnam-era veteran. 

Becoming a physical therapist assistant requires the completion of a technical education program that is both intellectually and physically challenging.

PTA Program Performance Essentials

The student can expect to incur some fees/expenses while enrolled in the PTA program and upon graduation. While enrolled these fees include, but are not limited to:

Maintenance fees for pre-requisite, general education, and PTA courses:   

  • In District - $110.50/credit hour
  • Out of district - $157.50/credit hour
  • Out of state - $215.50/credit hour

Textbooks and course materials:  Students are expected to purchase the required textbooks and course materials for PTA courses each semester. These can cost anywhere from $300-$800 per year.

Health insurance:  All PTA students are required to carry personal health insurance during the second year of the program at your expense. Students are also required to have liability insurance each semester for clinicals which is covered by the college through tuition fees.

Castlebranch Compliance Tracker:  Required for the student to upload PTA Program paperwork requirements. The cost is $27.50.

Family Care Safety Registry: Required for placement at clinical sites. Will cost approximately $15.

Criminal background check:  Required for placement at clinical sites. Will cost approximately $14 and up depending on the number of states you’ve lived in.

Drug screen:  Required for placement at clinical sites. Approximately $35.

PTA Program Shirt/ Lab Coat/Uniform:  PTA program shirts are strongly recommended for off-site labs, field trips, skills practical checkouts, etc. they are $25. Some clinical sites require a lab coat, uniform or scrubs that you would be responsible for acquiring. 

Clinical Education Expenses: Students are responsible for potential expenses related to of clinical activities (i.e. gas, transportation costs, housing if applicable, etc.)

APTA Membership: Student membership in the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is a requirement for the final semester of the program. Joining the organization will entitle you to journals, communications, special conference, programs, etc. It will keep you informed of important legal, ethical and practical issues and guide you in your professional growth. Several of our graduates have been honored by the Missouri Physical Therapy Association. Cost for student membership is $100.

For 2017, the total cost of the program was estimated at $8,813 in-district and $15,785 out of district for two years taking all courses in the curriculum.

After graduation:

Licensure Examination:  Examination and processing costs will be approximately $600. 

Licensure fees: Maintaining your license will be approximately $50 every two years.

Financial Aid Information

  • St. Louis Community College provides a comprehensive financial aid program funded by federal, state and private agencies. 
  • STLCC provides a Cost Calculator to help students estimate costs. 
  • For information on STLCC Scholarships
  • FAFSA

All PTA students must maintain satisfactory progress toward their educational goals. Satisfactory progress will be determined based on the grading system and policies stated in the PTA Program Handbook that is distributed at orientation. 

Letter grades will be used to indicate student performance for each course. Students will be provided an update on grades at midterm and end of course.

Students must complete all academic courses (general education requirements, biology courses, and PTA courses) before progressing to the Level II clinical education courses (PTA 216: Clinical Education IIA and PTA 217: Clinical Education IIB).

Retention Policy:

Students must earn a "C" (74%) or above in all PTA and Biology courses and maintain an overall G.P.A. of at least 2.0 (C).

Students receiving a "D" or below 74% in PTA or Biology courses must repeat these courses. Only one repeat is allowed. The student may not enroll in a course more than two times without an appeal to the Selection and Retention committee. If repeating these courses puts a student out of the program sequence, the student will be able to continue at a later date only if space is available.

No PTA course or BIO 209 may be repeated more than once, or enrolled in more than twice without review by the retention committee.

Students may only repeat/re-enroll in BIO 209 and/or PTA courses on a space available basis.

More information regarding specific classroom and clinical education grading policies is available in the student handbook which is distributed at orientation.

Graduation Rates

Graduation Year # of Students
Admitted / Graduated
Graduation % Rates
2015 25 / 17 81%
2016 30 / 23 84%
2017 25 / 18 80%
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Licensure Rates

Graduation Year Licensure Pass Rate
2015 100%
2016 95.7%
2017 100%
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Employment Rates

Graduation Year Employment Rate
2015 94%
2016 91%
2017 100%
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Waiting List Information: 
Cheryl Chambers, PTA Secretary - 314-984-7726 or cchambers@stlcc.edu

Academic Advising: 
314-984-7575 or mc-advising@stlcc.edu   (Request a PTA Program Advisor)

Admissions: 
314-984-7601 or mcadmreg@stlcc.edu

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Hours for all campuses: Monday–Thursday from 8 a.m.–7 p.m. and Friday 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
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