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Physical Therapist Assistant (AS)

Professor Mark Fransen helping a student in class.

A healthcare field on the move.

Why Become a PTA?

Physical therapy changes lives. It promotes healing and brings comfort; it helps people to regain independence or achieve health and fitness goals. Witnessing these physical changes in patients — seeing the effects of your care — makes working in this field incredibly rewarding.

With an associate degree and certification, you can begin a career as a physical therapy assistant. Often referred to as PTAs, these professionals provide a range of patient care services under the direct supervision of a physical therapist (PT).

PTAs are in extremely high demand. 

Physical therapist assistant lands at #7 on the U.S. Department of Labor’s 20 Fastest Growing Occupations list for 2019-2029.

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Career Outlook & Success

100%

employment rate for physical therapist assistant graduates (2019)

33%

increase in demand expected for PTAs through 2029 (BLS.gov)

$58,790

national median annual salary for PTAs (BLS, 2019)

Why USF for Physical Therapist Assistant?

The University of Saint Francis is recognized as a leader in health sciences education around our region and beyond. Our strong academics and skilled faculty prepare future healthcare professionals for the practical aspects of the job, while our deeply held Franciscan values prepare our students to practice compassionate patient care.

As you explore physical therapy assistant schools, be mindful that licensing and certification boards require degrees from accredited PTA programs;  USF is proudly accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

 Hands-On Learning: Four Clinical Rotations

In a field as hands-on as physical therapy, practical experience is critical — and you’ll get plenty of it at USF. Starting in your first semester, you’ll learn by doing: performing tests, taking measurements, making observations and practicing other real-world PTA tasks.

Then you’ll bring that knowledge to your four clinical rotations:

  • Acute patient care/in-patient care
  • Out-patient care
  • Skilled nursing

The fourth rotation can be a subspeciality of your choice, such as:

  • Wound care
  • Burns
  • Pediatrics
  • Home health

USF has more than 100 clinical site partners throughout Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and beyond; we’ll help you find the options that best fit your schedule, location and career goals.

Professor teaching a class with the human skeleton.

Expert Faculty & Innovative Facilities

You will spend a lot of time in Doermer Health Sciences Center, a state-of-the-art facility with specialized laboratories, research spaces and collaborative work areas. The USF Simulation Laboratory — SIM Lab for short — is home to life-like simulators that allow you to work with “blinking, breathing” patients in a safe, non-threatening environment.

As a PTA student, you’ll work through real-world scenarios and health challenges with your classmates in our physical therapist assistant labs. You’ll be guided by expert faculty members, many of whom are practicing PTs, PTAs and other health professionals; they bring valuable real-world experience — and professional connections — to our program.

Campus & Community Involvement

You can get involved on campus and serve others through campus ministries, student groups, and service-learning projects. Of special interest to physical therapist assistant majors might be:

  • PTAs in Motion
  • Intramural sports (a range of options!)

I love the way the program works. We learn a lot of material and it’s fast paced but working in the SIM lab and working on actual case studies brings the information to life in a way that makes it easier to learn. By the time we get to clinicals, we have confidence in our abilities. I just finished my first clinical in a skilled nursing facility and it was really cool to put what I’m learning into practice.

Shayna Temple ’20
Physical Therapist Assistant and Health & Exercise Science major

Professor Mark Fransen helping a student in class.

What Can You  Do With a Degree in Physical Therapy Assistant Studies?

According to the American Physical Therapy Association, most PTAs work in hospitals. However,  you can assist PTs and care for patients in a range of other settings, including:

  • Outpatient surgery centers
  • Private PT practice
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Social service organizations
  • School districts

Before they become a PTA, some of our current students or graduates first gain experience as a physical therapy aide.

Where You’ll Find Our Graduates

USF physical therapist assistant graduates are using their skills and knowledge to make a difference at places like:

  • American Senior Communities
  • Athletico Physical Therapy
  • ATO Physical Therapy
  • Bona Vista Programs
  • DeKalb County Eastern School District
  • Hand in Hand Comprehensive Therapy Specialists, Inc.
  • Heritage Park
  • Indiana Physical Therapy
  • Lutheran Health Network
  • Parkview Health
  • Partners in Autism
  • Wellebrooke of Wabash

Beyond PTA Programs: Graduate School & DPT Opportunities

Many USF students use their PTA education and experience as a stepping stone toward a bachelor’s degree. Some go on to pursue a health-related master’s degree or even a doctorate in physical therapy (DPT). On the list of stops after USF for physical therapy assistant, schools include:

  • Briar Cliff University
  • Indiana Institute of Technology
  • Indiana State University
  • Indiana Northwest University
  • Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
  • James A. Rhodes State College
  • Manchester College
  • Midwestern University
  • Trine University
  • University of Evansville
  • University of South Florida
  • Vincennes University

Accreditation

If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call Beth Shutt at 260-399-7700, ext 6916 or email bshutt@sf.edu.

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at the University of Saint Francis is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE)
1111 North Fairfax Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Telephone: 703-706-3245
Email: accreditation@apta.org
Website: http://www.capteonline.org

CAPTE Logo

Program Outcomes

2-Year Graduation Rate* Average: 38/46 = 82.6%

Class Year Pass Rate
Class of 2018 16/22 = 73%
Class of 2019 22/24 = 92%

2-Year Employment Rate (those seeking employment)**: 100%

Class Year Pass Rate
Class of 2018 100%
Class of 2019 100%

2-Year Licensure Pass Rate***: 97.5%

Class Year Pass Rate
Class of 2018 15/15 = 100%
Class of 2019 21/22 = 95.5%

* Graduation rate is defined by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) as the completion of the program with the cohort group with which a student started or at least within one semester of that cohort. Additional information about graduation rates can be requested from the Chair of the Department of Physical Therapist Assistant Studies.

** Employment Rate does not include graduates who did not seek employment as licensed physical therapist assistants including those who continued their education either completing bachelor’s degrees or enrolling in DPT educational programs.

*** The source for the program ultimate pass rate for the 2017 and 2018 classes is the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT).

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