The purpose of the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Program is to produce graduates with the information, skills, clinical competencies, and integrity to positively impact patients and the physical therapy profession. With an integrated two-year curriculum, the program offers an 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 the student for a career serving as a member of the healthcare team who provides direct patient care under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. A PTA provides treatment to patients with various diagnoses to relieve pain and improve function via the application of therapeutic exercises, gait training, neuromuscular re-education, functional activities, heat and cold therapies, light therapy, water activities, electrical stimulation, sound therapy, and therapeutic massage in the patient’s treatment regimen. A PTA is a licensed professional who works in settings where physical therapists are employed, such as hospitals, private practices, rehabilitation centers, school systems, sports teams, home health agencies, and other qualified facilities.
The Polk State College PTA Program is a 74-credit Associate in Science degree program that trains and qualifies the graduate to work in the physical therapy field. A student seeking admission must first be admitted to the College and complete the prerequisite courses prior to beginning the program. 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 Friday, and the program includes day and some evening hours. Program requirements are rigorous. The student must commit to making the program his or her first priority to ensure success.
Each student is required to attend clinical rotations. Clinical rotations are structured using a traditional internship format with full-time hours. The student reports to his or her assigned facilities from Monday through Friday (some weekend schedules are possible). Within the Program, PHT 1801L Physical Therapy Clinical Education I is three weeks in length, PHT 2810L Physical Therapy Clinical Education II is six weeks in length, and PHT 2820L Physical Therapy Clinical Education III is seven weeks in length. These three clinical experiences are required to complete the program (i.e., a total of 640 contact hours).
The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Polk State College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; telephone: 703.706.3245; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.capteonline.org. Questions about the Polk State PTA Program can be addressed by phone (863.297.1010, ext. 5751) or email (email@example.com).
The next application period is scheduled from January 15 to February 16, 2024, with the first semester of PTA Program coursework starting in the Summer 2024 Term. An online application is available on the PTA Program’s website during the application period.
In 2025, the Program plans to resume its normal application period (i.e., May 1 to 31) with PTA coursework beginning in the Fall 2025 Semester.
The following items are the minimum requirements to be considered for admission to the Physical Therapist Assistant Program:
- The prospective student must gain acceptance to Polk State College as a credit-seeking student with all required admission documents received by the Registrar’s Office.
- An applicant must have completed (or be in the process of completing) the following coursework at the time of application; all coursework must be completed with a C or better:
- To be considered for admission, the prospective student must also have verification of at least 10 observation hours in any type of physical therapy facility.
Note: Program prerequisites can change; a student who has not yet been admitted may be required to take additional or alternate prerequisites prior to program admission.
Admission to the Physical Therapist Assistant Program is provided using a selective admissions process that is based on seat availability. The PTA Selection Committee utilizes a point system as a guide in the selection of qualified students. Questions about this system can be addressed to the Program Director.
Note: Polk State College reserves the right to make changes to the admission criteria as circumstances require. Every reasonable effort is made to communicate changes in the program to interested students.
The Program’s merit-based, selective admissions process uses the following metrics as a guide:
- Overall GPA (2.5-3.0 GPA = one point; 3.0-3.5 GPA = three points; 3.5-4.0 GPA = five points).
- Service in the United States military (two points).
- An Associate in Science degree, Associate of Arts degree, or a higher degree (one point per degree).
- Additional observation hours (one point per additional 10 hours, for a maximum of three points).
Note: These hours cannot all be completed at the same facility or at a student’s place of employment.
- Clinical work experience as a certified nursing assistant (or other nursing role), rehabilitation technician, or athletic trainer, or within any other healthcare field deemed acceptable by the Program Director (two points per field, at the discretion of the PTA Admissions Committee).
- Completion of BSC 2085C Human Anatomy and Physiology I and BSC 2086C Human Anatomy and Physiology II with a grade of C or better prior to application (or the student is currently enrolled in the course at the time of application) (three points if passed with a B or better on the first attempt, two points if passed with a C or better on the first attempt, one point if passed with a C or better on a subsequent attempt).
- Completion of General Education courses prior to application with a grade of C or better (or currently enrolled in the course(s) at the time of application) (three points if passed with a B or better on the first attempt, two points if passed with a C or better on the first attempt, one point if passed with a C or better on a subsequent attempt).
- Completion (or in the process of completing) HSC 1531 Medical Terminology with a grade of C or better (three points if passed with a B or better on the first attempt, two points if passed with a C or better on the first attempt, one point if passed with a C or better on a subsequent attempt).
- Residence in Polk County (one point).
Note: Provisional acceptance may be provided if prerequisite courses are not completed at the time of application. If these courses are not successfully completed with a grade of C or better prior to the start of the program, the student is not accepted.
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 regarding how to comply with these requirements:
- Submission of a physical examination and an essential functions examination.
- Completion of immunizations and communicable disease screenings. This may require blood tests for titers or immunizations.
- Certification in CPR (current).
- Certification in AIDS Training for Healthcare Professionals.
- Completion of the required Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) fingerprinting and background checks.
- Completion of a drug screening.
The approximate cost of the PTA Program is $12,000. This estimate includes course fees, books, and uniforms; however, it does not include any Developmental Education courses that a student may need to take. With Developmental Education courses, the approximate cost for the program is $14,000.
The expected salary for a program graduate is dependent on the demand for physical therapist assistants. Salary potential and growth projection for physical therapist assistants can be found on the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics website (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, a graduate of the program is able to take the National Physical Therapy Examination for the Physical Therapist Assistant to establish eligibility for licensure. 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 to practice; therefore, each student must apply for Florida licensure upon successful completion of the PTA Program graduation requirements. The student is responsible for requesting information from the State’s licensing agency and completing the requirements for licensure.
Florida regulations state that an applicant can be denied a license or certificate if the 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; or is unfit or incompetent by reason of gross negligence, a physical or mental condition, or any other similar cause that could result in behavior that interferes in his or 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.
A Social Security Number (SSN) is required to be issued a certificate or license by the Florida Department of Health, the state’s healthcare licensing authority.
To obtain further information regarding the Florida Board of Physical Therapy Practice (FBPTP), a student may write or call the FBPTP office, or visit the website.
Department of Health
Board of Physical Therapy Practice
4052 Bald Cypress Way, Bin #C05
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-3255
Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs)
The Physical Therapist Assistant Program outcomes have been developed using the Normative Model for Physical Therapist Assistant Education (2006) as a reference. The program outcomes outline the behaviors expected from each graduate as related to the following career competencies: Communication, Individual and Cultural Differences, Behavior and Conduct, Clinical Problem Solving and Judgement, Education, Data Collection, Plans of Care, Interventions, Outcome Measurement and Evaluation, Healthcare Delivery Systems, Administration, Social Responsibility, and Career Development. The following program learning outcomes (PLOs) support the PTA Program’s mission, as well as the mission of Polk State College, and meet the educational standards set by the American Physical Therapy Association and the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).
Upon completion of the PTA Program sequence, the graduate is expected to be able to:
PLO 1: Communicate effectively with all stakeholders using written, verbal, and nonverbal mechanisms.
PLO 2: Provide safe, ethical, patient-centered care with consideration for patients’ differences, values, and preferences in all work-related activities, as consistent with the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) Guide for Conduct of the Physical Therapist Assistant and APTA’s Core Values for the Physical Therapist Assistant.
PLO 3: Use effective clinical judgment to implement the plan of care established by the physical therapist.
PLO 4: Utilize appropriate evidence-based resources to support clinical decision-making.
PLO 5: Describe and participate in aspects of organizational planning and operation within the physical therapy service facility.
PLO 6: Exhibit professional conduct that reflects a commitment to the profession, an interest in career development, and the desire for lifelong learning in support of continued competency.