Jun 21, 2024  
Catalog/Handbook 2022-2023 
Catalog/Handbook 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physical Therapist Assistant, AS

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Program: AS-25545

The purpose of the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Program is to produce graduates with the information and skills, clinical competencies, and integrity to positively impact patients and the 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 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.

A PTA is a licensed professional who works in settings where physical therapists are employed including 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. 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 and PHT 2810L Physical Therapy Clinical Education II consist of five-week rotations; the PHT 2820L Physical Therapy Clinical Education III rotation is six weeks in length. A total of three rotations are required for the program (i.e., total of 640 contact hours).


On April 27, 2021, the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) placed the PTA Program on temporary Probationary Accreditation status due to two out of eight Standards and Required Elements being out of compliance. The College submitted a compliance report to the CAPTE (September 3, 2021), and on December 2, 2021, the Commission placed the program on Show Cause - Continue Probationary Accreditation status.

Show Cause status is a notice of impending withdrawal of accreditation if evidence of sufficient improvement is not submitted prior to the next regularly scheduled CAPTE meeting. Probationary accreditation indicates that there are conditions of the program that place the program’s accreditation in jeopardy; it provides notice to the program and the public that if the program does not address the identified conditions, accreditation will be withdrawn. CAPTE’s decision to assign the Show Cause–Continue Probationary Accreditation status is based on clear evidence of continuing circumstances that jeopardize the ability of the institution to sustain an accredited program, as well as the program’s inability to demonstrate compliance with the Standards and Required Elements. The program has been found to be out of compliance with the following element(s): 1C2, 4A, 4D, 4G.

The College takes this situation very seriously and it is confident in meeting all CAPTE Accreditation Standards. Polk State’s PTA Program was created consistent with those standards when it first received accreditation in 1996, and its accreditation history can be viewed on the CAPTE website (www.capteonline.org). Polk State is committed to taking all necessary steps to ensure ongoing accreditation for this program. The College has hired a new Program Director (June 1, 2021) and Clinical Coordinator (July 15, 2021). The Program Director and Clinical Coordinator are making numerous program modifications to enhance the curriculum and to prepare students for the licensure exam. Polk State is continuing to provide students with the high-quality education and training required to become a licensed, practicing physical therapist assistant.

What does this mean for Polk State’s Physical Therapist Assistant Program? Polk State’s PTA Program remains accredited. Polk State is committed to demonstrating and maintaining compliance with the standards of CAPTE and is confident that the corrective measures being implemented will lead to removal of the probationary status.

The decision to place a program on probation may not be appealed. The PTA Program has submitted a requested Compliance Report (March 1, 2022) to the Commission that addresses the issues identified. The Commission then reviews the Compliance Report during its April 22-26, 2022 meeting period. Upon review of this report, the Commission may remove the probationary status (if the report satisfies the Commission’s concerns), continue the probationary status (if the report satisfies some but not all of the Commission’s concerns), or withdraw accreditation for the program (if the report does not satisfy the Commission’s concerns and the Commission believes that the program is not making a good-cause effort to do so).

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: accrediation@apta.org; website: www.capteonline.org. The program’s current status is Probationary Accreditation; more information about CAPTE is available online (www.capteonline.org/WhatWeDo/RecentActions/PublicDisclosureNotices). The Polk State PTA Program is available by phone (863.297.1010 ext: 5751) or email (pta@polk.edu).

Accredited status was achieved on May 2, 2012.

Admission Criteria

The PTA Program admission period is May 1 through May 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 to the Physical Therapist Assistant Program:

  1. 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.
  2. 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: 

Note: If a student receives provisional acceptance and the prerequisite courses are not completed with grade of C or better, the student is not accepted into the program. 

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.

  1. To be considered for admission, the prospective student must also have verification of at least 10 observation hours in any type of physical therapy location.
  2. The Selective-Admissions Process includes a merit-based point system. The system is applied using the following metrics: 
  • Overall GPA (2.5-3.0 = one point, 3.0-3.5 = three points, 3.5-4.0 = five points).
  • Letter of recommendation from a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant (one point per letter, for up to three points).
  • Service in the United States military (two points).
  • An Associate in Science degree or a higher degree (one point per degree)
  • Additional observation hours (one point per additional 10 hours, for up to three points maximum). (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 any other healthcare field experience deemed acceptable by the Program Director.
  • Completion of BSC 2086C Anatomy and Physiology II with a grade of C or above prior to application, or current enrollment in this course at the time of application (one point).
  • Completion of all General Education courses prior to application with a grade of C or better, or current enrollment in the course(s) at time of application submission (one point per course).
  • Completion (or enrollment leading to completion of) HSC 1531 Medical Terminology with a grade of C or better (three points).
  • Residence in Polk County (one point).

Note: Provisional acceptance is provided if the prerequisite courses are not completed at the time of application. If these courses are not successfully completed with a C or better prior to 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:

  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 the required Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) fingerprinting and background checks.
  6. Completion of a drug screening. 

Program Cost

The approximate cost of the PTA Program is $12,000. 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 Developmental Education courses, the approximate cost for the program is $14,000.

Potential Earnings

The expected salary for a program graduate 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: Occupational Employment and Wage Statistices website (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes312021.htm). Salaries vary depending on geographic location, type of facility, and years of experience.

Licensure Examination

Following completion of academic and clinical work, a graduate of the program is able to sit for 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.

Florida Licensure

Most states require licensure to practice; therefore, each graduate 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 healthcare licensing authority in Florida.

To obtain further information regarding the Florida Board of Physical Therapy Practice, a student may write or call the Board office, or visit the website.

Department of Health
Board of Physical Therapy Practice
4052 Bald Cypress Way, Bin #C05
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-3255
Telephone: 850.488.0595
Fax: 850.414.6860
Website: http://floridasphysicaltherapy.gov/ 

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 terminal behaviors expected from each student in competencies related to: 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 outcomes 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 verbally and nonverbally with the patient, the physical therapist, healthcare delivery personnel, and others in an effective, appropriate, and competent manner.
PLO 2: Demonstrate the ability to work productively with individuals of different cultures and abilities, and treat others with sensitivity.
PLO 3: Exhibit conduct that reflects a commitment to meet or exceed the expectations of members of the profession and of society.
PLO 4: Demonstrate clinical problem-solving skills and professional judgment.
PLO 5: Instruct aides, volunteers, peers, and coworkers using established techniques, programs, and instructional materials that are commensurate with the learning characteristics of the audience.
PLO 6: Demonstrate competence in performing specific data-collection techniques as delegated by the supervising physical therapist.
PLO 7: Decipher the plan of care written for an individual patient and implement delegated interventions to achieve the short- and long-term goals and outcomes identified in the plan of care.
PLO 8: Implement the delegated interventions within the plan of care established by the physical therapist, monitor the patient’s response, and respond accordingly.
PLO 9: Use data collection and communication to participate in determining a patient’s progress toward specific outcomes as established in the plan of care by the physical therapist.
PLO 10: Provide services under the direction of a physical therapist in primary, secondary, and tertiary settings.
PLO 11: Supervise the physical therapy aide in patient-related activities as delegated to the aide by the physical therapist, and in non-patient care activities as defined by the policies and procedures of the practice setting.
PLO 12: Demonstrate social responsibility, citizenship, and advocacy, including through participation in community and service organizations and activities.
PLO 13: Participate in career development based on self-assessment, performance appraisals, work-setting needs, and special interests.

General Education Requirements (16 Credits Required)

Total Program Hours: 74

Civic Literacy Competency

Pursuant to Rule 6A-10.02413 of the Florida Administrative Code, effective Fall 2022 competency in civic literacy is a requirement for all students receiving an Associate in Science degree. Competency in civic literacy must be demonstrated in the following ways:

AND Florida Civic Literacy Examination (Score of 60% or better)


  • Or completing one of the following assessments with the score indicated:
    • AP Government and Politics: United States (Score of 3 or better)
    • AP United States History (Score of 4 or better)
    • CLEP: American Government (Score of 50 or better)
    • Florida Civic Literacy Examination (Score of 60% or better)

Note: All approved accelerated credit is listed in the Credit-By-Exam Equivalencies. The Credit-by-Exam section of the Florida State Articulation Committee website provides further details.

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