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.
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:
- 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
- Nursing homes/long term care
- Rehabilitation Centers
- Outpatient /Sports medicine clinics
- Pediatric facilities (including schools)
- Home Health
Upon completion of the PTA Program, graduates will:
perform interventions safely and competently under the supervision of a physical therapist
demonstrate life-long learning through an ability to self-identify strengths and weakness and self direction for career development
demonstrate effective critical thinking and problem solving in data collection, application of physical therapy interventions, and progression of patient programs
effectively communicate with patients, family members, caregivers, physical therapists, and other members of the medical profession through oral, written, and non-verbal means
demonstrate the knowledge and skill necessary to provide physical therapy interventions to patients of all ages, cultural backgrounds, and economic status
relate the concepts of safe, legal, and ethical practice of physical therapy in accordance with the APTA Code of Ethics
document physical therapy interventions accurately, legibly, and in a timely manner
demonstrate an awareness of the importance of research as it relates to physical therapy
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.
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:
Dyani Stengel, DPT
Physical Therapist Assistant Technology
Health Sciences office: