Physical Therapist Assistant

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Physical Therapist Assistants are specially trained health care professionals who contribute to the welfare of patients under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. While under this supervision, physical therapist assistants assist with pain relieving modalities and therapeutic exercise and assist in the daily assessment of a patient's progress. Physical therapist assistants interact daily with not only patients and patients' families, but also with other professionals including, but not limited to, physicians, nurses, and respiratory therapists.

Excellent communication skills are essential to becoming a successful physical therapist assistant. Having the desire to help people regain their previous function as well as having empathy for their conditions are characteristics that will allow one to succeed in this profession. Further, these characteristics will provide job satisfaction and ensure a long career as a physical therapist assistant.

The two-year Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Washington State begins each fall and consists of five consecutive semesters of study. Students complete the program in May of their second year. Graduates of the program must sit for the National Board Exam. If the student decides to work in Ohio, a state laws exam also must be taken to be eligible for employment. Currently, most states require licensure and the student must have graduated from a Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) accredited program to be eligible to sit for the exam.

The Physical Therapist Assistant Technology Program at Washington State 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: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; website: Http://

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Career Skills:

As a physical therapist assistant student at Washington State Community College, one will acquire and master certain skills necessary to become an entry level physical therapist assistant. During the coursework students will acquire:

  • Effective written and oral communication skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Knowledge and understanding of physiologic conditions associated with certain populations
  • Knowledge and understanding of neurological and musculoskeletal dysfunctions
  • Detailed knowledge of anatomy
  • Skill, through practice, to perform modalities such as:
    • Ultrasound
    • Electrical stimulation
    • Hot and cold packs
    • Mechanical traction
    • Hydrotherapy and wound care
    • Intermittent compression
  • Skill, through practice, to perform:
    • Gait training and the use of assistive devices
    • Joint range of motion and manual muscle testing

Career Opportunities

  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes/long term care
  • Rehabilitation Centers
  • Outpatient /Sports medicine clinics
  • Pediatric facilities (including schools)
  • Home Health

Program Goals

Upon completion of the PTA Program, graduates will:

  1. perform interventions safely and competently under the supervision of a physical therapist

  2. demonstrate life-long learning through an ability to self-identify strengths and weakness and self direction for career development

  3. demonstrate effective critical thinking and problem solving in data collection, application of physical therapy interventions, and progression of patient programs

  4. effectively communicate with patients, family members, caregivers, physical therapists, and other members of the medical profession through oral, written, and non-verbal means

  5. demonstrate the knowledge and skill necessary to provide physical therapy interventions to patients of all ages, cultural backgrounds, and economic status

  6. relate the concepts of safe, legal, and ethical practice of physical therapy in accordance with the APTA Code of Ethics

  7. document physical therapy interventions accurately, legibly, and in a timely manner

  8. demonstrate an awareness of the importance of research as it relates to physical therapy

  9. demonstrate professional behaviors in all aspects of patient care consistent with the Core Values of Professionalism in Physical Therapy which includes accountability, altruism, compassion, excellence, integrity, professional duty, and social responsibility

Admission to the program

Admission to the Physical Therapist Assistant Program is limited and done on a selective basis. There are specific deadlines that must be met for admission. Admission to the program is competitive and only the top 20 students will be accepted to a class. The entrance requirements below must be completed, in full, before a student will be considered for admission to the program. Please see the official Application Packet for specific details and instructions related to Admission and Entrance requirements.

Entrance Requirements

  1. An official program application and brief, well written essay describing why you want to be a physical therapist assistant

  2. An official application for Admission to Washington State Community College

  3. Official high school or GED and/or college transcripts

  4. High School Biology with a C or better or College level Principles of Biology with a C or better

  5. High School Chemistry with a C or better or College level Chemistry with a C or better

  6. COMPASS math placement of Math 2110 Principles of Statistics or completion of Basic Algebra (MATH 0955) with a C or better

  7. 3 positive recommendations (see instructions in packet)

  8. Complete a minimum of 50 observation/volunteer hours. At least 25 hours must be completed in an inpatient facility (hospital, nursing home, rehab center) and at least 25 hours in an outpatient facility. Observation hours may be waived if an applicant has worked a minimum of 3 months as physical therapy aide or technician. (See instructions in packet)

  9. GPA of 2.75 or better

  10. Composite ACT score of 17 or better. ACT not required for those applicants with a Bachelor's degree.

Acceptance Rates:

  • 2013 55 applicants with 35 students meeting requirements; 20 students accepted (57%)
  • 2012 48 applicants with 41 students meeting requirements; 21 students accepted (51%)
  • 2011 60 applicants with 47 students meeting requirements; 20 students accepted (43%)

Matriculation Rates:

  • 2013 20 of 20 students (100%)
  • 2012 21 of 21 students (100%)
  • 2011 20 of 20 students (100%)

Graduation Rates:

  • 2013 16 of 20 students (80%)
  • 2012 18 of 21 students (86%)
  • 2011 18 of 20 students (90%)

Pass Rates on the National Licensure Exam:

  • 2013 16 of 16 students taking exam (100%)
  • 2012 17 of 18 students taking exam (94%)
  • 2011 18 of 18 students taking exam (100%)
  • 3 year cumulative pass rate of 98% (Benchmark 80%)

Employment Rates:

The percentage of Washington State Community College students who were employed within 6 months of passing the national licensure examination:

  • 2013 12 of 16 students (75%)
  • 2012 15 of 15 students (100%)
  • 2011 17 of 17 students (100%)


Course listings with descriptions of each class may be found in the Washington State Community College Catalog.

Click here for application packet: Physical Therapist Assistant

Contact to learn more:

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Laura Freed, MPT
Instructor/Program Director
740.374.8716 EXT. 1692
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Health Sciences office:
740.374.8716 Ext. 1602

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