Academics

Physical Therapist Assistant FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the difference between a Physical Therapist and a Physical Therapist Assistant?

    Physical Therapists (PTs) evaluate patients, determine the plan of care and perform skilled treatments.

    Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs) are supervised by the physical therapist. They help the physical therapist by performing selected treatment activities listed in the plan of care.

  • What is physical therapy?

    Physical Therapy (PT) is the art and science of providing care to patients suffering from injury or disease which has resulted in a loss of motion in the joints of the body, a loss of strength in muscles, increased pain, an inability to walk normally, as well as any of several other examples of losses of physical function. Through physical therapy, patients are helped to regain the ability to function at their highest possible level. Patients may include infants, children, adults, and the elderly.

  • What education is necessary for a PTA license?

    Physical Therapist Assistants attend community or technical colleges that offer an associate’s degree. Programs take between one and two years to complete. You must graduate from an accredited program, like MCC's, in order to sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination for Physical Therapist Assistants.

  • Where do PTAs work?

    PTAs work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, skilled nursing facilities, outpatient clinics and sports medicine centers. Work hours are generally during the daytime, Monday through Friday. Weekend work is generally available or required at hospitals and skilled nursing facilities.

  • How much money do PTAs make?

    The new graduate PTA can expect to earn between $35,000 - $45,000 per year for a full-time position.

  • What is the current job market for PTAs?

    The job market for PTAs is projected to continue to grow for the next several years both locally in Arizona and throughout the country. The United States of Labor Statistics forecasts that through 2020, the demand for Physical Therapist Assistants will grow by 45%, much faster than the average for all occupations. If you are interested in becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant, the opportunities are expected to be very good.

  • Why should I consider a career in physical therapy?

    A career in Physical Therapy is very rewarding. Each day, Physical Therapist Assistants work closely with their patients to help them recover from injuries or illnesses that have temporarily or permanently changed their lives. PTAs are important members of the rehabilitation team. Helping people move toward optimal health is a wonderful experience.

    PTAs are people who enjoy challenging work, communicating with people and working in a team environment to assist patients to achieve their fullest rehabilitation potential.

  • Can I apply to the PTA program if I have a criminal record?

    Licensure is the sole responsibility of the Arizona Physical Therapy Association (AzPTA). If you have been convicted of a felony, contact the AzPTA to verify eligibility to be licensed prior to submitting your application.

  • Do I need to pass an examination to be a PTA?

    To hold the title of Physical Therapist Assistant in Arizona, you must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for the respective level of education and training. The examination is administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). Costs associated with applying for certification and taking the examination were approximately $500 in 2010.

  • How many students will be admitted to the PTA program?

    A new class of 20 students is admitted each August to the traditional day program. The number of students admitted may change depending on employment market conditions and the availability of clinical training sites. There is a selection process and a deadline to submit applications. In the event of a tie in rank, the space will go to the person who submits his or her application the earliest.

  • What happens to my application if I am not one of the first 20 applicants?

    You must reapply to the PTA program each year.

  • How long does it take to complete the PTA program?

    The program at MCC is an integrated two-year program and can be completed in six semesters. (Summer, Fall, Spring, Summer, Fall, Spring).

  • Is this PTA program accredited?

    Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Mohave 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: http://www.capteonline.org.

  • When are PTA classes scheduled?

    Lecture and lab courses may be scheduled Monday through Friday. Classes may begin as early as 8 a.m. and end as late as 5 p.m. Depending on the semester, students may be in class for 6-8 hours, 3-5 days per week. All of these classes are held on-site at Mohave Community College, Lake Havasu City campus.

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  • What facilities can I contact to complete my volunteer/observation experience?

    This information will be given to you after completion of the PreCheck criminal background check. Please do not begin ANY observation hours before speaking with us AND completing the criminal background check.

  • Can I work and go to school to become a PTA?

    PTA program applicants are cautioned that the PTA program is a rigorous course of study. The program faculty recommends that work hours be kept to a minimum, but each student must make an individual decision about the number of work hours that he/she can handle while continuing to make acceptable academic progress in the program. The program recommends working no more than 20 hrs/week while enrolled in the PTA Program. The Clinical Education experience requires the student to be in the facility from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

  • What is the cost of the PTA program?

    Students will pay the normal tuition plus a program fee of $1,850 per semester. The program fee will include student uniforms, student lab materials and tools, initial drug testing fees, background/fingerprint clearance card and evaluation materials for clinical performance. Out-of-pocket costs will include, but not be limited to CPR, vaccines, medical clearance, costs for transportation and housing for clinical rotations, health insurance and additional tests required by individual facilities.

  • Is financial aid available for the PTA program?

    Financial assistance is available to eligible students in the form of grants, scholarships, employment or loans. You may receive aid from one funding source or aid may be offered in a package from multiple sources. Contact the Financial Aid office located on any of the four campuses or visit their web page for additional information.

  • Are there any special situations I need to be aware of before I apply for the PTA program?

    You will be required to complete three clinical education courses during the program. This is a series of work experiences with patients in a variety of off-campus settings, under the supervision of practicing PTAs and PTs. This includes one four-week and two six-week, full-time (40 hours per week) clinical experiences where you must display sufficient skill and competence to enter the field as a practicing PTA. You must be willing and able to organize your time, transportation, and other life responsibilities to complete and benefit fully from your clinical experiences. Working during the clinical education experience is an unrealistic expectation.

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  • Is there a dress code for my observation hours?

    Appropriate dress is mandatory. Business casual is acceptable. Closed-toed shoes, slacks (nice khakis are acceptable) and a polo-type or similar shirt. Please do not wear sandals, halters, shorts or any tight fitting clothing. Undergarments should not be visible. Long hair should be pulled back, minimal jewelry and nails must be clean and fingertip length. Perfume or cologne should be minimal. Tattoos should be covered. The facility has the right to turn you away for inappropriate appearance. The facility will report back to the Program Director if your dress was not appropriate, whether they turned you away or not.

  • What are the expected student outcomes of the PTA program?

    Students who understand:

    • Their role in the delivery of physical therapy
    • Impairments, dysfunctions and functional limitations in order to treat patients under the supervision of a licensed Physical Therapist
    • The application and modification of appropriate treatment techniques established within the plan of care developed by the Physical Therapist
    • The importance of maximizing functional independence
    • Their potential to contribute as a functional team member within the physical therapy profession, the healthcare team and society
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