PHYSICAL THERAPY AS A CAREER
The goal of physical therapy is to assess, prevent, and treat movement dysfunction and physical disability, with the overall goal of enhancing human movement and function. The profession of physical therapy emerged during World War I, with rehabilitation of injured soldiers. Physical therapy began with the service orientation of individuals who found that their understanding of human movement could make a difference in the quality of life experienced by others. Development of the national organization now known as the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) began in the 1920s, and the APTA has been a strong force in defining the profession as it has developed. Another major growth period for physical therapy occurred during and following World War II. At that time major concepts related to rehabilitation (physical, psychological, vocational, and emotional) were introduced.
Physical therapy has continued to evolve as a profession. Since 2002, all physical therapist educational programs have been at the master’s or doctoral level. Most graduate physical therapy programs now offer a clinical Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) as the entry level degree, and all graduate programs are required to be at the DPT level by 2015. At that point the master’s degree in physical therapy will no longer be available.
ROLE OF THE PHYSICAL THERAPIST ASSISTANT
During the past 40 years, the physical therapist assistant has become a regular part of the physical therapy staffing pattern in the United States. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapist assistants held 64,000 jobs in the U.S. in 2009, and employment is expected to increase faster than average per the U.S Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Physical therapist assistants are licensed in Florida, and most states license or regulate PTAs. The PTA Caucus represents physical therapist assistants’ interests, needs, and issues in the American Physical Therapy Association governance.
Physical therapist assistants work with physical therapists in providing therapy interventions and monitoring progress of patients. Physical therapist assistants are responsible to and supervised by physical therapists. The physical therapist performs the initial examination and evaluation of the client; develops the plan of care; selects those aspects of intervention that can and should be delegated to the physical therapist assistant; and re-evaluates patients to determine need for modification of the treatment plan or readiness for discharge.
The field of physical therapy is dynamic and challenging. Shifts in health care delivery systems, specialization, autonomy of practice, and content of educational programs are contributing to continued growth and change in the field. With the foundation gained in the program, graduates have the preparation to successfully pursue licensure as physical therapist assistants and contribute positively to the health care profession. Physical therapist assistants are currently in demand in the health care system across the country, and graduation from the physical therapist assistant program will provide students with varied career opportunities.
New graduates will be eligible for employment post successful completion of their licensure examination. As graduates of this program, students will have had clinical affiliations which reflect a wide variety of acute care experiences including but not limited to: orthopedics, neurology, cardiac rehabilitation, intensive care, and extended rehabilitative care in: a rehab hospital, a rehab unit, an ALF, or SNF settings. In addition, some exposure to clients involved in “at home” care via home health or public health services or visiting nurses/rehab services as well as the public school systems and private physical therapy clinics, satellites, or services provided by physician’s office, physical therapy staff will be provided as availability and interest dictate.
Graduates and potential students can view this area to see a sampling of open physical therapy related jobs both local and national.
In addition to the sampling of job postings on the right side of this page, students may also view samples of regional and national job postings on the Job Postings clip board in the PTA Program classroom.