Online degree programs in physical therapy assisting teach students the functions and structures of the human body, such as musculoskeletal anatomy, as well as psychology and rehabilitative techniques that assist in healing. Available from two-year community colleges and career schools, distance learning programs in this field often lead to Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science degrees, as well as a Bachelor of Science. The curriculum is heavy on science and hands-on training in order to prepare students for state licensure requirements. While some programs are offered in a fully online format others require students to complete some clinical training or on-campus labs.
Distance learning students studying physical therapy assisting can typically complete a considerable amount of coursework online within a virtual classroom environment. That said, those seeking training in this field should be prepared for on-site work both on campus and in healthcare facilities.
San Juan College
Located in Farmington, New Mexico, San Juan College offers online degree programs that follow the same semester schedule as on-campus programs. The hybrid physical therapy assistant degree program allows students to complete most academic coursework remotely.
Information and Requirements
Students are required to be on campus for a total of nine to 16 days in a semester for each lab course taken. These on-campus sessions provide hands-on training in therapeutic techniques.
Students are also required to complete full-time externships in a clinical setting during the final semesters of the program. The externship can be located near the student's residence, but a contract must be established between the clinical facility and San Juan College. Students must also have a Web cam and microphone for proctored exams.
Courses included in this program include the following:
- Physical therapy procedures
- Therapeutic exercises
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Whatcom Community College
Students can pursue an Associate of Science in Physical Therapy Assistant through an online hybrid program at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Washington. The school's online degree programs follow the same quarter schedule as those conducted on campus. Distance learners can complete the hybrid physical therapy assistant program on a part-time basis within nine quarters.
Information & Requirements
The online physical therapy assistant degree program combines online academic coursework with on-site technical training. On-campus labs take place around one weekend a month and students are also required to take part in two part-time clinical affiliations and two shorter clinical experiences. The clinical requirements can be completed in a facility near the student, but they must include both inpatient and outpatient practice.
The hybrid curriculum includes the following classes:
- Physical therapy assisting procedures
- Anatomy and physiology
- Ethical issues
- Manual therapy
Pima Medical Institute
Students looking for more in-depth study can opt for the Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy Assistant (BSPTA) program at Pima Medical Institute. Specifically crafted for physical therapist assistants, this is a bachelor's degree completion program that allows students to choose from two tracks: inpatient and outpatient.
Information & Requirements
Students can complete this degree exclusively online with no in-person requirements. The curriculum features more than 60 credit hours of coursework directly related to the major. Applicants must be high school graduates who have also completed a physical therapy assistant program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.
Students in this program can expect to take courses in the following:
- Exercise physiology
- Health care law and compliance
- Clinical kinesiology
- Practice-specific rehabilitation
Students who would like to earn a physical therapy assistant degree can find both fully online programs or, more commonly, hybrid programs that require some hands-on training on campus.