APTA Responds to USNews&WorldReport.com Article on PTA Career

April 29, 2009

Dear Editor:

Thank you for highlighting the physical therapist and physical therapist assistant as good career choices (5 Jobs That May Be Your Best Shot at Finding Work, April 23.) However, I would like to offer a correction on two points the article made regarding physical therapist assistants.

Physical therapists and physical therapist assistants enjoy an unemployment rate much lower than the national average. The physical therapist and physical therapist assistant career paths are both valued within the physical therapy profession; therefore, it is incorrect to classify the job of the physical therapist assistant as "second best."

Physical therapist assistants, or PTAs, are among the nation's top health care careers in terms of demand, including registered nurses, physician assistants, internal medicine physicians, dentists, optometrists, and pharmacists.

PTAs provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist and they are allowed to open their own practices, contrary to what Ms. Wolgemuth stated in her story.

PTAs work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practices, and others. They must complete a two-year associate's degree and are licensed, certified, or registered in most states. Care provided by a PTA may include teaching patients/clients mobility exercises, training for walking with crutches or walkers, massage, and using physical agents and electrotherapy.

In almost every state one may visit a physical therapist directly, without the referral of a physician. To learn more about the physical therapist assistant and to find a physical therapist in your area, please visit www.moveforwardpt.com.


R Scott Ward, PT, PhD
American Physical Therapy Association