The purpose of the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Program is to graduate students with the information and skills, clinical competency, and integrity to positively impact their patients and the profession. With an integrated two-year curriculum, the program offers students the opportunity to earn an Associate in Science in Physical Therapist Assistant degree with immediate entry into a rewarding career upon successful completion of the licensure exam.
The PTA Program prepares students for careers serving as members of the healthcare team who provide direct patient care under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. The PTA provides treatment to patients with various diagnoses to relieve pain and/or improve function via the application of heat and cold therapies, light therapy, water activities, electrical stimulation, sound therapy, therapeutic massage, body exercises, gait exercises, and functional activities in the patient's therapeutic regimen.
PTAs are licensed professionals who work in settings where physical therapists are employed. They work in hospitals, private practices, rehabilitation centers, school systems, sports teams, home health agencies, and other qualified facilities.
The PTA Program offers a 74-credit hour AS degree program that trains and qualifies graduates to work in the physical therapy field. Students seeking admission must first be admitted to the College and complete the prerequisite courses. Certain courses in this program require placement at the college level or satisfaction of developmental education requirements in reading, writing, and mathematics.
The PTA Program is offered on the Winter Haven Campus. Classes are scheduled Monday through Thursday, and the program includes day and occasional evening hours. Program requirements are rigorous. Students must make the commitment to the program their first priority to ensure success.
Polk State College has achieved accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education of the American Physical Therapy Association. Graduates of the PTA Program are eligible to take the National Physical Therapist Assistant Examination for licensure as physical therapist assistants.
The admission period is March 1 through March 31 of each year. An online application is available on the PTA Program's website during this period.
The following items are the minimum requirements for consideration for admission into the Physical Therapist Assistant Program:
1. Prospective students must gain acceptance to Polk State College as credit-seeking students
with all required admission documents received by the Registrar's Office.
2. Students must complete any required Developmental Education courses.
3. Students must have a GPA of 2.00 or higher, and a grade of C or higher in all prerequisite and
4. The Physical Therapist Assistant Program admits students using a lottery
procedure that is based on seat availability. To be considered for admission, applicants
must satisfy necessary Developmental Education requirements, complete 50 volunteer/
observation hours, and complete the following courses with a C or better by the time of
application during the year of intended entry into the program:
Note: Prerequisites to a program can change; students not yet admitted may be required to take additional or alternate prerequisites prior to admission to the program.
- Prospective students must have verification of at least 50 volunteer/observation/employment hours in at least three different physical therapy locations. These hours should include at least one inpatient setting (e.g., hospital, rehabilitation hospital, skilled nursing clinic, or nursing home) and at least one outpatient setting (e.g., sports medicine clinic, outpatient orthopedic clinic, outpatient pediatrics clinic, school system, or home health care). Students should complete a minimum of eight hours in each physical therapy location. Students who complete observation hours in less than three physical therapy locations are disqualified from program enrollment.
Examples of scenarios that disqualify the applicant from admission include, but are not
limited to, the following:
- The student completes 50 hours in an outpatient clinic (i.e., all hours are completed in only
one setting and one location).
- The student completes 25 hours in a skilled nursing facility and 25 hours in a hospital setting
(i.e., all hours are divided between only two types of physical therapy locations).
- The student completes 25 hours in an outpatient clinic, 10 hours in another outpatient clinic, and 15 hours in another outpatient clinic (i.e. hours accrued are distributed between three different locations, but have been completed in the same setting type).
An example of a scenario that fulfills the observation/volunteer hour requirements:
- The student completes 20 hours in a skilled nursing facility, 20 hours in another skilled nursing
facility, and 10 hours in an outpatient clinic (i.e., hours accrued are distributed in three different
locations, but two of the settings are of the same type).
Additional Program Requirements
The following requirements are to be completed prior to the first summer clinical internship. The PTA Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education provides an orientation to admitted students regarding how to comply with these requirements:
1. Submission of a physical examination and essential functions examination.
2. Completion of immunizations and communicable disease screenings. This may require blood tests for titers or immunizations.
3. Certification in CPR (current).
4. Certification in AIDS Training for Healthcare Professionals.
5. Completion of required Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) fingerprinting and background checks.
6. Completion of a drug screening.
The approximate cost of the program is $9,870. This cost estimate includes course fees, books, and uniforms; however, it does not include any Developmental Education courses that a student may need to take. With the Developmental Education courses, the approximate cost for the program is $11,926.
Salary for program graduates is dependent on demand for physical therapist assistants. Salary potential and growth projection for physical therapist assistants can be found through the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics at: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes312021.htm. Salaries vary depending on geographic location, type of facility, and years of experience
Following completion of academic and clinical work, graduates of the program are able to sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination for the Physical Therapist Assistant. The exam is administered by the Professional Examination Service, Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (PES/FSBPT), 475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10115; telephone: 212.367.4200.
Most states require licensure in order to practice. Therefore, graduates need to apply for Florida licensure upon successful completion of the PTA Program graduation requirements. Students are responsible for requesting information from the state licensing agency and completing the requirements for licensure.
Florida regulations provide that the denial of a license/certificate may occur if an individual is habitually intemperate; is addicted to, found to be in illegal possession of, or involved in the sale or distribution of habit-forming drugs; and/or is unfit or incompetent by reason of gross negligence, a physical or mental condition, or any other similar causes that could result in behavior that interferes in his/her practice as a health professional. In addition, a felony conviction may prevent an individual from earning licensure to practice as a physical therapist assistant.
Prospective students should be aware that a Social Security Number (SSN) is required to be issued a certificate or license by the Florida Department of Health, which is the licensing authority for healthcare licenses in Florida.
To obtain further information regarding the Florida Board of Physical Therapy Practice, students may write or call the Board office, or visit the Internet website:
Department of Health
Board of Physical Therapy Practice
4052 Bald Cypress Way, Bin #C05
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-3255