Facebook Ads Pixel

Physical Therapist Assistant - PTE Program

FAQ - Physical Therapist Assistant - PTE Program

Physical Therapist Assistant - PTE Program

Are Observation Or Work Hours Required For Admission?

There is a requirement for observation of physical therapy or work experience in and/or around physical therapy. Students who have never been exposed to physical therapy patient care must arrange for 16 hours of observation in a physical therapy care setting. The consortium colleges do not arrange this; it is the responsibility of the student. Students who have worked as a physical therapy aide, CNA, etc., or have been a physical therapy patient may have this requirement reduced or waived. Proof of observation or work hours is required.


Is The Consortium Program Accredited?

No. The consortium program has not been granted Candidacy for Accreditation, the first step in the process of accreditation. Here are important points regarding program Candidacy:

  • Candidacy grants a program the ability to start. Students cannot be accepted into, or take classes in a new program until Candidacy is granted.
  • A great deal of effort is going into the achievement of Candidacy and a decision regarding this will be made no later than early December 2013.
  • If Candidacy is granted in early December 2013, PTA program classes will start in the spring semester, January 2014. Only students who have been accepted into the program will be allowed to take PTA courses.
  • The PTA consortium program and the colleges represented make no guarantee, expressed or implied that Candidacy will be achieved.  Rest assured that every effort is being made to achieve this first step.
Who Is A Physical Therapist Assistant?

A physical therapist assistant (PTA) is a health care provider who works under the supervision of a physical therapist (PT). They do hands-on care for people who need to recover from injuries to the bones and joints, brain and nerves, problems with pain, developmental complications, and other movement problems. Their main purpose is to assist people with reaching their maximum level of health and function. They help people to recover their ability to walk, to heal from wounds, and to learn to work and live with the effects of injuries and other health problems.

Physical therapists are responsible for evaluating and treating people who need physical therapy care. They identify problems that physical therapy can address, create goals, and decide what treatment the person will receive. PTs supervise all care given by the PTA.

How Does PTA Education Differ From PT Education?

It is important to understand that achieving a physical therapist assistant A.A.S. degree does not prepare students to become physical therapists. These are two separate careers and the degree requirements are not the same.

The physical therapist degree is now rapidly becoming a Doctorate. Most schools in the U.S. have made the change, or are in the process of changing to the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree or its equivalent. Colleges and universities that offer physical therapist degrees are the best sources for more information. A listing of schools that offer the DPT degree can be found at www.apta.org.

What Is The Demand For PTAs? What Will I Earn When I’m Done?

As with all professions, health care worker demand goes up and down. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states, however that the PTA profession is to, “…increase much faster than average…” and that job prospects are, “…very good.” The median wage throughout the country is approximately $44,000.00/year.

Where Does A PTA Work?

PTAs usually work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, outpatient clinics, skilled nursing facilities, schools, home health – actually, anywhere that physical therapists work. They only work with physical therapists – this is exclusive and required by professional ethics, codes of conduct, and by law.

What Degree Will I Earn?

Once the PTA program is accredited, students will earn the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree. The degree will allow graduates to sit for the state board examination and become licensed to practice.

Is There Licensure For PTAs In Idaho?

Yes. In order to receive a license to practice, an individual must graduate from an accredited PTA program and pass the State license examination.

NIC’s Program Is A “Consortium” Program. What Does That Mean?

NIC has joined with the College of Southern Idaho, the College of Western Idaho, and Lewis Clark State College to form a single PTA program. Classes will be taught through inter-video conferencing and by part-time instructors in labs on each campus. Clinical education will take place in various places but will occur mainly near a student’s “home campus”.

Is the PTA Program A “Selective Admissions” Program?

Yes. Students must apply to the program to be considered for admission. Just like medicine, nursing, and other health care programs, there are prerequisite courses (see below), minimum grades, and other criteria that determine who gets into the program.

PTA courses cannot be taken a little at a time according to a student’s desires. It is important to understand that students are accepted as a group into a program. The group is accepted and starts at the same time, stays together for all courses, and graduates together when all courses have been taken and passed.

What Courses Must Be Completed Prior To Acceptance Into The PTA Consortium Program?
  • Anatomy and Physiology I (with lab)
  • English Composition
  • Math (MATH 123 or higher)
  • Medical Terminology
In Addition to the Prerequisites, What Are Other Requirements For The Program?

Once accepted into the program, students will need to complete CPR certification and have blood tests and other related health screens. Also, expect drug screenings prior to, and during the PTA program. Drug screens are required by the program and its clinical education sites. These may be randomly administered while students are performing clinical education experiences or while enrolled in coursework.

Be aware that a criminal background check will be required upon acceptance. If there is a history of criminal activity (including, but not limited to, felony convictions) students will not be able to complete the program.  

Once students are accepted into the program, further discussion including deadlines for the other requirements, will occur at the program's new student orientation.

General Education Courses

Note: The following courses may be taken prior to acceptance into the program or may be integrated while taking the PTA courses. Please see your advisor for help in planning your educational path:


  • Human Anatomy and Physiology II (with lab)
  • Communication (COMM 101)
  • Psychology 101, or 205, or 211
Am I too old to apply?

No one is too old! However, Physical Therapy Assistant work is a physically demanding profession that requires stamina.  You will be required to stand for long periods of time, sometimes without a break, you must be able to move quickly and lift objects.  You must also have good eye sight (corrective lenses are fine), and good hearing.