Are you looking for a satisfying and enjoyable career in the medical field that provides you opportunities to help others? Maybe becoming a doctor or a nurse doesn’t sound right for you, but have you thought about a future in physical therapy? For the patient recovering from a car accident or the individual suffering from severe arthritis, the level of treatment and care provided by physical therapist assistants can provide much needed relief for those in pain.
Dr. Cynthia Vaccarino, physical therapist assistant program chair at Hodges University, states, “Therapeutic exercises, manual therapy, modalities and gait training are few of the many treatment methods used to treat such individuals to restore their mobility. Despite tough educational requirements, it is considered a solid career choice due to the numerous benefits the career provides.”
At Hodges University, our Associate in Science in Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program offers you the opportunity to earn your degree in two years or less. Before entering the program, you will need to:
- Satisfy all prerequisites. This can be accomplished by enrolling in the biomedical sciences associate program. While in the program, you can select the physical therapist assistant track.
- Obtain GPA and provide documentation. Once completing all prerequisites, you must obtain the required GPA and provide documentation to fulfill the observation requirement.
- Participate in an interview. You will be selected to participate in an interview process, as well as submit a written essay.
Starting in January of each year, only 20 students are admitted into the program. However, Hodges’ PTA program provides opportunities other schools in the local area cannot. For instance, Hodges’ PTA program is:
- CAPTE Accredited. The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) has designated Hodges’ PTA program as one that “meets the standards for quality set by the profession.”
- A 1+1 Program. Your first year will consist of earning prerequisites and the last year will contain your core classes. The cohort program runs from January to December each year, which provides graduates with opportunities to:
- Become licensed sooner than other PTA schools in Southwest Florida
- Potentially make a yearly salary of $52,000 prior to other schools’ graduates
- Complete the program in two years or less, while not working, in comparison to the 2-2 ½ year programs at other schools
- Equipped with experienced faculty. Currently, the PTA faculty consists of two full-time and two adjunct professors. Vaccarino states, “Two of these individuals are doctorate prepared physical therapists.” The PTA faculty members are currently working in the field and remain knowledgeable about the newest information and research-based treatments.
- Offered in a traditional format. All PTA courses and labs at Hodges are offered on campus, in a traditional, in-person format. You will have access to Blackboard resources, whereas other schools use telecommunication to conduct labs and courses.
- Providing students with experiential learning opportunities. Your experience in the PTA program will enable you to participate in hands-on activities in every class and lab. With a 10/1 student-teacher ratio during labs, students will receive a personalized experience.
- Furnished with state of the art equipment. Within the labs, you will have access to a variety of state of the art equipment to assist in learning and preparing for real-world experiences.
- Partnering with other schools. As a PTA student, you will have the opportunity to participate in free screenings and clinics with students enrolled in the doctoral PTA program at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU).
- In the community. There are times when various community-based organizations request volunteers to provide services to individuals in need. You will be able to apply your knowledge in real-world situations by assisting at events and clinics throughout the community.
While at Hodges, Kristen Sommer, who graduated from the PTA program in 2013, discussed her experience in the program, as well as the opportunities existing inside the labs.
In July 2016, Hodges’ PTA graduating class of 2015 passed their national board exams with a 100 percent pass rate. In order to remain CAPTE accredited, 85 percent of students must pass the national board exam. When announced in August 2016, Vaccarino stated, “The class of 2015 scored 9.6 points higher than the national average.”
Although passing the national board exam is the next step after graduation, the PTA faculty at Hodges wants to ensure that you are not only prepared to take the exam, but are also prepared to transition into the real-world.
As a physical therapist assistant, you will be entering a valuable and rewarding profession, which is in high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “Employment of physical therapist assistants is projected to grow 40 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.”
The American Physical Therapy Association shares six reasons to become a physical therapist assistant, which include making a difference, becoming a movement expert, enjoying job security, loving your job, choosing your location and expanding your skills.
From hospitals to private practice, PTAs are needed throughout the world. You can rest assured that your knowledge and skill sets can be applied to various health care facilities, which are designed to support patients who need the assistance of a physical therapist assistant.
In addition to the geographical opportunities to build your career, there is great earning potential. In May 2015, the BLS reported that physical therapist assistants in the state of Florida earned an annual mean wage of $61,610, which is considered the fifth highest paying state in the United States. Nationally, the mean annual wage was $55,250.
Becoming a physical therapist assistant offers many great rewards. Start building your future by doing your research and enrolling in an accredited PTA program. The time and effort to become a PTA will lead to an exciting and fulfilling career.
 “Importance of CAPTE Accreditation.” Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. http://www.capteonline.org/WhatWeDo/ImportanceofAccreditation/.
 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapist-assistants-and-aides.htm (visited January 24, 2017).
 “Benefits of a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Career.” American Physical Therapist Association. http://www.apta.org/PTACareers/Benefits/.
 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015, Physical Therapist Assistants, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes312021.htm#nat (visited January 25, 2017).