Students in Texas have a good number of schools from which they may earn an associate's degree as a physical therapy assistant. Such programs are often limited admission programs and entrance to them may be competitive. Physical therapy assistant programs include classroom instruction, lab training on fellow students, and clinical or practicum requirements under supervision.
Physical therapist assistants (PTA) programs generally have specific admission requirements. Some requirements must be met prior to starting the program and others prior to starting the clinical portion. Admission requirements vary by school, but common requirements include high school diploma, transcripts, assessment tests, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) certification and proof of physical examination, criminal background check, drug screening, current immunizations and health or liability insurance.
The physical therapist assistant program at Amarillo College in Amarillo admits 24 students each year. Admission selection is based on a point system, with applicants awarded points based on completion of general education courses, meeting admission requirements and completion of hours spent observing in a clinical setting. Students can complete the program in two years; a summer session is also required. Physical therapy courses include issues in health care, rehabilitation techniques, applied physical principles, lifespan growth and development, medical terminology and therapeutic exercise. The curriculum for the PTA program includes lectures, lab courses and clinical education. Clinical education requirements are met through a two-week clinical rotation and two 7-week clinical rotations.
Austin County Community College
Located in Austin, this public college offers a physical therapist assistant associate degree program that prepares students to work as licensed physical therapist assistants. The four-semester program requires that an applicant spend at least 40 hours working as a volunteer or aide in a physical therapy department. Additionally, the following prerequisite courses must be completed: English composition, medical terminology, math, human anatomy (lab & lecture), introduction to psychology and introduction to physical therapy. The curriculum includes lectures/class discussions, lab classes and three sessions of clinical rotations. Passing a criminal background check is a condition of program acceptance.
Students enrolled in the physical therapist assistant program at Blinn College in Brenham will complete 69 credit hours in two years. In addition to meeting typical admission requirements, the applicant must submit transcripts, a passport-type photograph, proof of completed Health Occupations Basic Entrance Test (HOBET) and documentation of at least 20 hours of work or volunteer experience. Failure to meet all requirements can result in applicant not being accepted into the program. Ideally, the applicant will have 60 hours of volunteer/work experience, with 20 hours each spent in three different areas (rehab, acute, outpatient, etc.). Students learn through a combination of didactic studies (lab/lectures ) and clinical education. Hands-on training is obtained through three 6-week clinical rotations, each consisting of 240 hours.
Del Mar College
Del Mar College, located in Corpus Christi, offers a physical therapist assistant program at its West Campus. Applicants must meet admission requirements for both the college and the PTA program, including proof of at least 30 hours of observation in three different disciplines. The top 22 applicants of the admission process are chosen to enter the program, which begins each Fall. To earn the degree, students must complete coursework, lab studies and clinical education. Prior to graduation, students must take a mock state board test to ensure they're ready to pass the certification exam. Of the students who graduated this program, 96% passed the licensure examination in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
El Paso Community College
Located in El Paso, this public college has a five-semester physical therapist assistant program that results in the student earning an associate degree upon completion. Students complete general education courses, physical therapy lecture/lab courses and clinical rotations. Three sequential field experiences (practicum courses) are integrated into the program to provide the student with hands-on training in a workplace setting. A professional issues course helps prepare the student to pass the NPTE. Students must attend an orientation and complete an online HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) course.
Houston Community College
The PTA associate's degree program at Houston Community College (HCC) in Houston prepares students to provide aid to patients under the supervision of licensed physical therapists. Students are taught to perform treatment modalities, such as massage and whirlpool procedures. Classes in the program include neurology, pathophysiology, therapeutic exercise and current physical therapy concepts. Students in HCC's physical therapist assistant program also gain firsthand experience in the field through clinical training that is part of the program's curriculum.
Acceptance into this selective program is based on a point system; prerequisite courses and GPAs provide the most points. Applicants must attend a comprehensive orientation. Prospective students applying to this program should also have a total of 24 hours of observation or work experience in both inpatient and outpatient physical therapy settings.
Lone Star College System
Based in The Woodlands, Lone Star College System offers a physical therapist assistant program at its Montgomery campus in Conroe. In addition to completing specific admission requirements, prospective PTA students are also required to have at least 40 hours' volunteer, paid or observatory experience with a licensed physical therapist. Students who have taken and performed well in general education courses prior to applying may have the best chance of admission into this competitive program.
Students take such classes as healthcare communication, anatomy, rehabilitation, ethics and lifespan development. Clinical practice is also a part of this program's curriculum, allowing students hands-on experience in the role of a physical therapist assistant. This program prepares students to take the physical therapist assistant licensure examination. Lone Star College System has designed this program to allow students to transfer credits to a 4-year degree program to further develop their physical therapy skills.
San Jacinto Community College
The physical therapist assistant program at San Jacinto Community College (SJCC) in Pasadena is a competitive enrollment program that uses a point system and admits only 24 students annually. Students are awarded points for certain criteria, such as completion of admission requirements, GPAs and work experience. At least 40 hours of observation in a physical therapy facility must be completed. This 72-credit program is offered at the college's South Campus, although students can take the non-physical therapy courses at any of SJCC's campuses. The PTA program can be completed both full- and part-time. In addition to completing coursework and lab work, students complete three clinical rotations.
South Texas College
McAllen-based South Texas College (STC) offers a 70-credit hour physical therapist assistant program that prepares students to take the certification exam for licensure as physical therapist assistants. To earn the degree, students must complete general education courses, required core courses and three sequential clinical practicum courses. Courses include management of neurological disorders, basic patient care skills, rehabilitation techniques, pathophysiology for the PTA, functional anatomy and therapeutic exercise. STC reported that an average of 97% of the 2010-2012 graduates from this program have found employment within six month of passing the licensure examination.
Tarrant County College
Tarrant County College in Fort Worth has a physical therapist assistant program that begins each Fall and consists of five quarters. This selective admission program requires that applicants complete all admission requirements, including having work experience in this field. A committee within the Allied Health Department selects applicants with the highest number of bonus points, which have been awarded based on completion of general education courses, GPAs and work experience. This day program includes PTA courses and clinical education. Clinical rotations are completed during the second half of the program.
Physical therapist assistants (PTA) are typically required to have an associate's degree from an accredited physical therapist assistant program. Texas, like most states, requires their physical therapist assistants be licensed. Training consists of coursework and clinical education. Upon completion of training, they must pass both the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for physical therapist assistants and the Jurisprudence Examination, which relates to Texas physical therapy laws and regulations. When students have passed the exams, they can obtain their license from the Texas Board of Physical Therapy Examiners.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type and Setting||Physical Therapist Assistant Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)|
|Amarillo College||Two-year, public; midsize city||Associate in Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant||$2,136 in-district; $3,168 in-state; $4,704 out-of-state*|
|Austin County Community College District||Two-year, public; large city||Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant||$2,550 in-district; $10,830 in-state; $13,020 out-of-state*|
|Blinn College||Two-year, public; distant town||Associate in Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant||$2,832 in-district; $4,200 in-state; $8,040 out-of-state*|
|Del Mar College||Two-year, public; large city||Associate in Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant||$2,729 in-district; $4,029 in-state; $5,334 out-of-state*|
|El Paso Community College||Two-year, public; large city||Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant||$3,010 in-state; $4,858 out-of-state*|
|Houston Community College||Two-year, public; large city||Associate in Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant||$1,632 in-district; $3,360 in-state; $3,756 out-of-state*|
|Lone Star College System||Two-year, public; small city||Associate in Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant||$1,600 in-district; $3,880 in-state; $5,200 out-of-state*|
|San Jacinto Community College||Two-year, public; large suburb||Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant||$1,548 in-district; $2,628 in-state; $4,188 out-of-state*|
|South Texas College||Four-year, primarily associate degree, public; midsize city||Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant||$3,780 in-district; $4,080 in-state; $7,680 out-of-state*|
|Tarrant County College||Two-year, public; large city||Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant||$1,661 in-district; $3,132 in-state; $7,560 out-of-state*|
Source: *NCES College Navigator