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  • APTA to Explore Feasibility of Transitioning PTA Education to Bachelor Degree Level

    To examine how the physical therapist assistant (PTA) can best support the physical therapist in the current and future health care environment, APTA will collaborate with appropriate stakeholders to conduct a feasibility study to determine whether or not transitioning the entry-level degree for the PTA to a bachelor's degree is indicated. In accordance with the motion adopted by the House of Delegates, the study will identify the following:

    • additional/expanded content to be addressed in a 4-year curriculum;
    • baccalaureate-level educational models for the entry-level PTA that include a description of the required and elective discipline-specific and liberal arts components of the curriculum;
    • a mechanism for PTA programs housed in 2-year institutions to award a baccalaureate PTA degree;
    • educational models for PTAs with associate degrees to transition to a bachelor's degree; and
    • possible practice act language modifications that could be required as a result of the transition.  

    A report on the study will be submitted to the 2014 House, with an interim report to the 2013 House. [RC-20] 

    Draft language adopted by the 2012 House will be available on the House Community next week. Final language for all actions taken by the June 2012 House will be available by September after the minutes have been approved.  


    • I think it is a good idea. The gap between PT and PTA education is too vast. Now that PT's are at a doctorate level, it makes sense to advance PTA's to Bachelor degree.

      Posted by Denise Rackers on 6/15/2012 1:11 PM

    • Hi my name is Debbie and I am currently enrolled in West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah KY. I have one more year there and will be recieving my Associates in Science and Associates in Arts. I am curious what degree level is expected to become a Physical Therapist. Does it vary from state to state? I am a little confused and seems at times my school is confused as well or they just do not know the answers. Thank you. Debbie Carter

      Posted by Debbie Carter on 6/15/2012 1:15 PM

    • Would like more info for pta four year degree possibility... and how soon it will take place...

      Posted by chad mixon, pta on 6/15/2012 1:21 PM

    • Debbie: Please see the resources for prospective students: http://www.apta.org/ProspectiveStudents/

      Posted by News Now Staff on 6/15/2012 1:35 PM

    • Chad: As the story above states, the study would be submitted to the 2014 APTA House of Delegates (June 2014). The "possibility" and timeline after that would be influenced by the findings in the study.

      Posted by News Now Staff on 6/15/2012 1:38 PM

    • Assuming there is an upgrade to the PTA education, what upgrade in education would that be exactly? I mean, I'm a PT student, and I have current PTA's in my cohort who say that there is a gap, but isn't that the point? Isn't that what separates a PT from a PTA?

      Posted by Josh on 6/15/2012 2:48 PM

    • I for one am so glad that the research into transitioning has begun. It only makes sense to advance PTA education as well. Thank you APTA!

      Posted by Jennifer Beard on 6/15/2012 3:19 PM

    • This would be a fantastic opportunity for our profession as a whole and open other professional possibilities for PTAs. Many management positions require holding a bachelor's degree as a minimum; this would be a natural progression for many in our profession and provide a solid future for physical therapy.

      Posted by Kimberly Gerling on 6/15/2012 3:23 PM

    • I believe that in the changing healthcare arena, it is crucial for the PTA to advance their education to match that of the PT. As a new grad PTA, I support any measures to advance our programs to Bachelor's degree. Thank you!

      Posted by allison harper on 6/15/2012 4:22 PM

    • This is a terrible idea but may lead to change in our seriously flawed academic model. Our academic institutions have continued to inflate the cost of PT education without forethought as to how new grads would be able to recoup the costs in a reasonable amount of time. With so many negative financial consequences of the transitions to MPT then DPT, it seems as if those in power were oblivious to the economic impact it would have. In many states the PTA programs are delivered via community colleges - the most reasonably priced institutions. To change to a bachelor's degree would only be a money grab for already out of touch academic institutions and faculty . Of the students we have received from both DPT and PTA programs, the PTAs are by far more able to quickly adapt from the classroom to the clinic. Whereas the DPTs in many cases are poorly prepared socially and mentally by their faculty for interacting with real people in pain. These DPTs many times have to unlearn the false facts and unsupported techniques/rules learned in the classroom. I worry that the excess classes may eliminate some of the better candidates as the DPT seems to have done.

      Posted by Sean on 6/15/2012 5:35 PM

    • I'm in full support of this transition to take place. There is too large of a gap between a PT's education and a PTA's. I take both PT interns and PTA interns and see a huge difference. I am glad the APTA is trying to also find a way that the student would get some type of credit for already being a PTA and for looking at how we can still use some existing programs even though presently they are at a community junior college.

      Posted by Arthur Baudendistel on 6/15/2012 5:51 PM

    • I am pleased that this motions is being taken seriously and will be studied. I agree with Sean in terms of the cost especially right now in our economy and with the transitions of Health Care laws, but I would like to see an graduated career ladder that allowed the PTA to accept additional resposibilities and develop additional skills. Of course this would need transitions within the practice acts in the USA and the Federation would need to be on board. I think with CAPTE moving out of APTA, a graduated career ladder could be something that would make good sense and match this transition. I would hope that the community colleges could retain their position as creating entry level PTA, but allow the 4 year schools the opportunity to move the Advance PTA to a higher level. With this move, maybe more PTAs would become involved in our professional organization. I wish this new task force good luck in obtaining the information they need to make a wise proposal for our profession's future. Martha Z.

      Posted by Martha Zimmerman on 6/15/2012 7:11 PM

    • I'm not sure requiring a bachelors degree is necessarily the right thing for PTAs. One of the big draws for being a PTA as a "second career" or as a career that someone who can't afford to go to a 4 year program, but has the opportunity to go to a 2 year program. I feel like there's already too much pressure and financial hardship to get a college degree as is. Unless PTAs are going to get paid more and are going to have their responsibilities expanded more, I don't think its worth to get the 4 year education. Sean, I agree with what you said. I think its going to scare a lot of good potential candidates away.

      Posted by Jennifer on 6/15/2012 7:34 PM

    • This is an interesting idea. However, I feel that at this time all PTA's should help work towards increasing the PTA membership in the APTA. Doubling the current low percentage would be a good goal to start with. I would challange anyone to explain to me how the membership of PTA at 8% in many states does not impact the PTA profession negitively. That should be the discussion now and the education later.

      Posted by Bob Sheridan PTA on 6/15/2012 8:21 PM

    • To Bob's comment, I'm a PTA student at a well respected PT school. We are strongly encouraged to support our profession, and for the most part we do. I have heard that the PTA's only count for a 1/2 vote, so maybe if they would recognize a bit more than there would be more support.

      Posted by Chris on 6/15/2012 11:10 PM

    • I'm all for it

      Posted by Burton Ford, PT, DPT on 6/15/2012 11:36 PM

    • I want to voice my strong support for this motion. The PTA is at a place where we can grow in our ability to treat our patients better. The role of the House is to look at the future of our profession, not what is easy. I want to thank the Delegates that voted in support of this as well as the Minn. chapter for bring this motion forward. In our profession the PT has advanced from a BS to a MPT to a DPT. It is important for the extender of PT services advance as well. Change is never easy, but it is needed to grow our profession. I am proud to be a PTA and a member of the APTA.

      Posted by Sean Bagbey -> ?GVZ?O on 6/16/2012 12:28 AM

    • This is a fantastic idea, even though it is about 10 years late to the table. There are many reasons why this is absolutely necessary (some which have already been posted), but the most important is to limit third party payers having a platform for reducing reimbursement based on PTA treatment vs. PT treatment (even if what was performed was completely identical). If this continues, facilities will reduce PTA use and/or salary which will reduce incentive for those considering a career as a PTA, which by natural process will reduce the number of PTAs which will increase workload on PTs and thereby causing patient access to be limited and patient care compromised in order to see those numbers who are "waiting". The result is further loss to DC, ATC, massage therapist, personal trainer, and alternative "treatment" professions (active and passive). This compromises the viability of the PT profession as a whole due to revenue competition (i.e. loss), damage to the brand, loss of respect from accessibility challenges, decreased one-on-one time possibility, and therefore reduced efficiency related to healing/recovery time which leads to patient dissatisfaction (which continues the demise in a different way). Please do this APTA, our future depends on progression of both positions..."you are only as strong as your 'weakest' link".

      Posted by Barron Shultz on 6/16/2012 12:22 PM

    • OK. I want to be on the mailing lists necessary to keep up with the developments of the study. I am especially interested in the transition program.

      Posted by Debra Dreher on 6/16/2012 3:44 PM

    • I appreciate the comments from previous posts, however I get the sense that most are PT's. I am a new PTA student and from my experience thus far, MANY of us are second career or later-in-life first career people who already have a bachelor's degree. Even the younger students are those who have already gone to a 4-year college and graduated.I attended my chapter meeting before the House of Delegates meeting and right now there is no structure as to what an additional 2-years schooling would involve. I'm not saying I'm against it, but unless it would all be Therapy related, what's the point really? There's a reason they are taking 2 years for the study and I for one hope those with all the voting rights will wait to hear what the results are before jumping on the band wagon of support.

      Posted by Linda Boettger on 6/17/2012 7:19 AM

    • I believe this is a great idea for PTA's. Most of the programs I know could use increased class time in amputees, neurologic issues and increased affiliation times. As for the cost, sometimes you need to spend alittle to get a lot. An increase in our education would be worth the amount of cost invested in it.

      Posted by Joe on 6/17/2012 9:04 AM

    • My question is if we do go for the 4 year degree, will a PT on site still be required to treat? Afterall the PT's themselves were only a 4 year degree a few years ago...

      Posted by Julie on 6/17/2012 10:56 AM

    • I am a PTA that graduated in 1997 in Massachusetts. I have had the opportunity to have worked in all types of settings, including SNF, acute care hospitals, rehab hospitals, out patient. I have done extensive work in wound care. I have been surprised to realize that there is a vast knowledge base not only from college to college, but I have taught some of the PT's I have worked with some things that I thought they should have known. Simply because a person has a bachelor's degree, this does not compensate for the hands on learning experiences. I have looked into going back to college to become a PT. The college would not accept my core classes for my degree and stated that I would have to take all courses, as if I had no fundmental classes for my degree, ( i.e. neuro kineseology) I found this exteremly frustrating and decided not to further my education.

      Posted by Wendy on 6/17/2012 9:07 PM

    • I'm a little suspect about it being a requirement. Realistically PTA's do everything except new eval's. Specializing in amputee's and neuro issues can be done just as well in continuing ed, I believe. I do believe if this does become the requirement then PTA's should be able to do new eval's. We know that the PT education level was raised to promote direct access. If doesn't serve as much of a purpose for PTA's to stay in school to learn interventions that can be learned in continuing ed.

      Posted by chris on 6/17/2012 9:59 PM

    • John stated, "Most of the programs I know could use increased class time in amputees, neurologic issues and increased affiliation times." That may be true. However nobody really learns how to perform any interventions in school, other than ultrasound, et al. We learn the vast majority on our clinical affiliations. The BS would just add more non-therapy classes, which only serves to boost university revenues. Wendy, isn't it odd that the higher degree PTs get, the less the students seem to know? We really need to get more excellent clinicians in the schools, and purge the programs of the career academics.

      Posted by Sean on 6/18/2012 11:51 AM

    • Everyone needs to stop complaining about the increase in time to finish college. The thought process behind enhancing the education of the PT field is so that the scope of practice will be expanded, regardless of the fact of whether or not there is any difference in the clinicians abilities from MSPT to DPT or Associates to Bachelors, if the PT is expanding to a doctoral profession there assistants need to be at least Bachelor degree holds. This is simply the progression of the field which will eventually result in increased reimbursement leading to higher salaries etc. Just relax and stop complaining.

      Posted by Noah on 6/18/2012 3:36 PM

    • I am a recent DPT graduate who not only received excellent theoretical training but also clinical training. Most of the people I work with are impressed at the manual skills I know AND learned in school. Granted I went to one of the top 10 schools in the country for my profession but for those who keep trying to state new grads don't know anything based on your experience with a handful of them, this is unsound logic. As for the 4 year program for PTAs, I believe my question is what do you want me to do now? I already have PTAs who introduce themselves to patients as PTs. Will I just be doing evaluations and discharges now? The set up is starting to mirror the physicians....sure I can see 40+ pts a day now but when do I get to do all of the fun stuff that drew me to the profession to begin with. The corporations are already trying to adopt this model, PTAs treat and PTs just oversee. Its cheaper for employers I guess.

      Posted by rachel on 6/18/2012 7:39 PM

    • I think this is a move that has to happen to keep up with the advancement of the profession. Over the years the PT has moved from bachelor level to doctorate. Yet, the PTA education has not changed at all. I can see a couple of benefits of advancing to a bachelor's level. For one, as someone else mentioned, a higher degree may help prevent future decreases in reimbursement for the PTA. Also, a bachelor PTA would have a smoother transition to a DPT if desired. As it is now, none of the PTA educational curriculum counts towards a PT degree. So for a PTA without a bachelor's degree to become a PT would require a fresh start in school versus just taking the 3 years on top of the potential PTA bachelor degree. I also think a bachelor's degree PTA program would produce a higher quality PTA because it would require more time and dedication.

      Posted by Seth Elliott, PTA on 6/19/2012 11:37 AM

    • I wish Noah was right. Maybe we can spend our way out of debt too! @Rachel, that's probably why your program is so highly ranked. However a school ranked in the mid 20s is quite possibly putting out the worst prepared students ever. It's not just the didactic learning part that is wrong at these schools, it's the admission process. 4.0 GPAs and a couple affirmative action admits excludes too many possibly great candidates.

      Posted by sean on 6/19/2012 3:54 PM

    • PTA's were orginially created to replace on the job trained P.T. aides. Both P.T.'s and PTA's advanced their training on the job and by taking courses to become more skilled. PTA's will remain in a marginal role whether they have more formal education or not. If PTA's are to advance their education, then it seems to me that that our autonomy should be advanced as well. I would rather see programs created to advance PTA's to become RPT's.

      Posted by Linda on 6/21/2012 3:02 PM

    • Whether further education is obtained while in a PTA program or through CEU's after the PTA is in practice, I feel that Barron Shults hit the nail on the head in his comments regarding reimbursement issues and accessibility to PT services by the patient.

      Posted by Julie on 6/21/2012 5:26 PM

    • I've been a PTA for 18 years and just finishing my DPT. The transition of the PT degree to a DPT was for autonomy. The PT is responsible for the patient and the PTA assisting in treating the patient under the supervision of the PT. There is no reason to further the PTA degree. If the APTA wants more support form the PTAs in this country, they need to show them more respect and give them more say in the association and create more opportunities for the PTA to advance their education. BY the way I have been an APTA member ever since PTA school - it's our profession and whether there are problems with the APTA or not we need to support our profession.

      Posted by Jerry Yarborough SPT, PTA on 6/21/2012 11:59 PM

    • So is there a problem with the services that PTAs provide? Is this coming up again because PTAs aren't filling a job need? - or is this coming up as a change for change sake?

      Posted by carla on 6/22/2012 3:15 PM

    • Keep the debate simple. How does this proposal benefit patient care? Shouldn't that be the deciding factor when considering a change that significantly impacts our profession? The best data available to answer this question is the relatively recent transition of PTs from MSPT to DPT. In general, across the nation, is patient care better now since DPTs have arrived on the scene? That answer is debatable but these facts are not: PTs' salaries in the clincal setting are not dependent on their academic degree, autonomy of practice is not greater due to the DPT degree, college debt is now greater for PT graduates, raising the academic requirements has not increased the number of PT graduates (possibly the opposite), third-party payment for PT services are declining. These neutral/negative consequences are going to be further expanded by doing to the PTA programs what has been done to the PT programs. Oh, there is one other indisputable fact, these changes result in academic institutions making more money. So APTA Delegates (and whoever else that will be responsible for pushing through this change) what's your motivation for initiating this proposal? If you think it is improved patient care, then you need to get out into the real working world of staff shortages, declining reimbursement, and new PT graduates with hugh financial debt expecting higher salaries whose clinical skills for the workplace are no better than their MSPT and BSPT counterparts.

      Posted by Marti Miller PT on 6/22/2012 3:33 PM

    • Thank you Julie, and thank you Jerry for your comments regarding PTA recognition. However, the APTA is limited with regards to this as there are states who still do not require PTAs to be licensed. Unless and until all states have a level "playing" field with regards to licensure and continuing competency requirements (or at the very least require SOME), there will continue to be an anchor slowing down our "progress" towards reaching goals of vision 2020 and beyond. Progression of any profession means absolute standards across the nation, and entry level education should be at the highest degree available (with all doctorate programs being accepted as the "highest" level).Therefore, it is simple to maintain the "gap" between PT and PTA due to education level even if the PTA is progressed to a bachelor degree. This is a moot point because our practice acts require the clinical distinction no matter what the education of a PT or PTA is even if the PTA has an advanced degree and the PT is a BSPT. The comments regarding cost of degree increasing are also non-valid for the argument because the same arguments have been made in the past with transitions of the PT degree, and if nothing else it has probably enriched the quality of candidates more than it eliminated quality. There are schools which have considered and/or are considering bridge programs for PTA to PT, but going from a 2 year degree with little in common with the 7 year is much more costly and wasteful than going from 4 year to 7 year. I would like to think that this may also enhance the quality and retention of PT school candidates who are trying to progress from the PTA level. How much more passion and dedication can one demonstrate for our profession than being willing to do that?

      Posted by Barron Shultz on 6/22/2012 4:09 PM

    • As a PTA who had a PhD prior to going to PTA school, I am in full support of the PTA program going to a Bachelor's degree. If a program changes from an Associates program toa Bachelor's program without practical clinical advancement of the graduate, something is wrong with that program. The pressures to be able to "hit the ground running" and treat clients immediately uppon graduating are increasing. There are few opportunities to learn "on the job" - therapists are stressed trying to manage their own productivity requirements making it tough to take time to educate others. We need to provide more opprotuinites for PTAs to be trained both in the classroom and in clinicals. As for those pointing fingers at the "APTA", this is an organization made up of therapists. The therapsists who are members make up the APTA and vote for people to represent us in the decision making process. Outsiders are those who choose not to be members and part of the process.

      Posted by Diane on 6/23/2012 4:45 PM

    • With the advance of the PT to the DPT level it would seem only natural for the PTA to advance to the BS level. This would allow for increased clinical education hours with improved treatment techniques. What is learned in a CEU weekend course does not make you compentent in providing that treatment skill which is true for both the PT and the PTA. Expanded clnical training with a PT would enhance the PTA skills more. There are now more community colleges that are able to award BS degrees than when the PTA programs were started. A BS degree would allow for the PTA to advance their education to be a PT or to go into another profession. An AS degree allows you to only be a PTA..

      Posted by Vanie on 6/25/2012 11:01 AM

    • I am a student at Mercyhurst Northeast in the PTA program. I feel there is so much to learn in such a short period of time. I wish I could of taken this over four years. If the PTA program does turn into a four-year degree format does that mean a PTA who completes it and receives a BA degree would be more desirable for hire rather than someone like me who will receive a two-year degree?

      Posted by Chris Slusarz on 6/25/2012 6:00 PM

    • BARRON: Good points! Are you also writing the new Geico "chain of events" commercials? Sounds similar! RACHEL: I too am frequently approached by new grads as well as seasoned PTs who know nothing about a treatment and look to me for information or performance of a technique. Go Figure. As far as the PTAs you know who introduce themselves as PTs - "Nip it in the bud!" If you aren't taking action with the licensure board to have them reprimanded and allow it to continue then shame on you! A PTA knows better. Likewise, PTAs would appreciate being referred to with APTA recognized branding. It's Physical Therapist Assistant, not Physical Therapy Assistant or LPTA. Note too that PT is not RPT as mentioned by Linda. APTA's position is for two distinctions to ease and solidify therapist recognition by consumers: PT and PTA. I'm not sure this degree advancement debate will ever end. I've been practicing 11 years, an APTA member for 12, and listening to it all along.

      Posted by Beverly Flynn on 6/26/2012 7:48 AM

    • I am Patrick Doran, president of the Indian River State College PTA program class of 2013 based out of Fort Pierce, FL. We have discussed the proposed transition in class and one of the issues that came up was how credits will transfer for those interested in continuing on to get their DPT after PTA. I myself chose to do PTA as a stepping stone to the DPT program to gain clinical knowledge, to network, and to to gain experience in therapist/patient interactions. One thing I found out after starting the program is that the classes I take now, even though we use the same books and similar curriculum, do not transfer or count for anything when entering a DPT program. My question is if PTA is bumped up to a BS program then would the credits earned be able to transfer to DPT programs? There should be an option to at least test out of certain aspects of the curriculum so we could save money as students. What are others thoughts on this??

      Posted by Patrick Doran on 6/27/2012 11:17 PM

    • As a brand spanking new PTA student on my second career, WITH a BS, my concern is this- what do you do for someone like me who already HAS a BS? Do I still have to go back to school for 4 years, to take the same core curriculum, the same science classes, etc just to say I am better trained? Would I actually be better trained? One of the reasons I chose this path was the relatively short time of study to get a great, rewarding job. Would there be a separate path available to those of us who already hold a degree? Also, as Barron pointed out- I think the APTA needs to start with petitioning all states to require a PTA to be licensed. I think that will do more for patient care, outcomes, liabilities, respect, etc. Get that taken care of and then tackle the amount of education required.

      Posted by Jennifer on 6/28/2012 8:56 PM

    • I have read several opinions on this thread and all have legitimate concerns. The one that keeps sticking out to me is those who are already PTAs having to go back to school for another 2 years. It would seem that the PT world could learn something from the skilled trades. Would not an on the job apprenticeship program with minimal school time serve us just as well? There is no replacement for on the job experience. If the level of the program is to raised then PTAs should be able to translate time worked for education.

      Posted by John Stapleton on 7/3/2012 12:31 PM

    • I think it is an awesome idea to make the PTA curriculum a 4 year degree. I just graduated from a PTA program last December of 2011 and I now have 2 Associates degrees. It makes it hard to continue back to school and continue working on a B.A. It costs even more money and time. I totally support the idea and hope that it goes through. If it does would it apply to me and other PTA's that have already graduated?

      Posted by Collin Liston on 10/9/2012 8:04 PM

    • Im curious about that as well Collin, i start the PTA program in March, and if it goes through in 2014 (when i graduate)...would it affect me?..also is the PTA program close to becoming obsolete....because i have heard this said due to the RC3-11 law?...anybody know anything about this?

      Posted by Te'Arra Howard on 10/12/2012 5:39 PM

    • I am very concerned about for profit institutions offering PTA programs. These are not community colleges some if them are healthcare training "schools". Like Kieser and a place like Taylor College in Belleview, FL..This is a for profit school that as of a a few years ago had there "classes" at a strip mall..Then they changed there name, to Taylor College and moved into a steel framed building, looks like a warehouse..then they decided to open a PTA program..applied, the APTA standards are so low for opening a school they approved them...Huh? Plus there is already a PTA program at a community college just 20 miles away..This will flood the PTA job market in this area..Prereqs for the so called program are a joke compared to what we had to take..classes like "Liberal Arts Math" or "History". are you serious? If you give the PTA degree away to anybody it will be worth nothing..There nursing program license exam pass rates are among the lowest in the state and have a approx. 4.5 more students fail the exam than those at the nearby community college..We need to stop for profit places like this from offering professional degrees like the PTA..Did i mention they cost 4-5x more than a community college..ridiculous!!!

      Posted by Matt on 10/13/2012 12:37 PM

    • I am a senior at a university in TX and will be graduating with a BS in fitness and human performance in May. I have been working as a PT tech for almost 2 years. When I started my job I did not know anything about the PT profession. I have fallen in love with it! However, I have been in school for 6 years and dont have an easy financial state. I have looked into PT schools and PTA schools. I would love to get my DPT but dont have time to take the physics, chem, and a couple others. I have bios, stats, ect that I needed for my degree. Due to already being 25 PTA is starting to look more appealing because I am qualified to enter the program asap. The only thing that stops me is not wanting to be looked down upon by my peers. Some of the PTs I talk to or have heard talking tend to down the PTA or look at them like they are small. I am a strong woman who has a college education and I want to make a good living in an area I love. Making this transition would make me happy due to the sense of accomplishment that PTAs would feel. I am considering taking the remaining prereqs for DPT after I get my PTA and going back to school later on after I work a while, start a family, and get on with my life for a couple years after school! If they would make a way for PTAs to feel and be looked at as more of an accomplished individual I think more and more people would want to be apart of it.

      Posted by NIcole on 11/8/2012 8:39 PM

    • Good intention with unintentional consequences. One good consequence is that it will maintain or increase salary for DPT and PTA because it will further keep the supply low and demand higher than it is today. The Negative consequence is the quality of care for our patients will go down. Would public elementary schools increase a teachers credential at a time when there is very high demand for teachers and low supply of teachers and if they do would that increase class size? Well at least, public school will get paid for grouping students...

      Posted by Billy on 11/14/2012 1:17 PM

    • I think it's a great idea and not sure it would necessarily require much change. The PTA program itself is two year but you still have ore requisites to get in. Count those as under grad and add more in depth treatment protocols to the program itself...4 year degree. I love how some PTs point out that they went to school 7 years counting undergrad course work but not for ptas.

      Posted by Jake on 12/5/2012 9:16 PM

    • I am a PTA with five years of experience in the field. I have worked side by side with PT's who have anywhere from Bachelor's to a Doctorate degree. I have yet to have a patient who can tell the difference during a treatment between a myself and their PT. At least in my setting (inpatient), the PTA does everything the PT does in a treatment. So my question is this: if the profession feels a therapist requires a Doctorate degree, how in the world do they feel an Associate's degree is adequate for the assistant? In my state I do not require any on-site supervision from a PT in order to practice. I feel as though either PT's really don't need a Doctorate degree or PTA's should definitely have the opportunity to advance to a Bachelor's degree. Also, what better undergrad could a PT student have? I had wanted to continue my education and earn my DPT however am unable to do so because none of my credits for PTA transfer to the Universities with PT programs, meaning I would have to go to school for at least 7 more years full time to earn my DPT despite all my experience. I feel stuck, like I lack potential for any advancement in my profession. It infuriates me. Maybe a Bachelor's degree doesn't need to be mandated; but I feel it should at least be an opportunity.

      Posted by Janelle on 1/14/2013 9:03 PM

    • I think it is great that the PTA will eventually have a 4 year degree. I am a PTA and about to finish my bachelors degree which only accepted so many credits from my AS degree. When I attended PTA school over 10 years ago, I had to complete about a year or more of pre-requisites which included college algebra, psychology, and 2 semesters of english as well as the anatomy and phisiology classes. Most programs require this, which means we go to school for 3 years for a 2 year degree, so it makes sense to add one more year and get a higher degree. Thank you. It will save anyone who wants to further their education at a later date. Currently, I am struggling with deciding to return to DPT school because of the cost factor. Easily 100K of debt doesn't sound appealing despite loving the profession. I know I can do the work, but many PTs tell me not to do it because of the cost now, its not worth it. So, an MBA may be the next step. And, I don't think the PTA profession is going anywhere.

      Posted by K. Faust on 3/3/2013 6:15 PM

    • I agree with Matt - if the APTA accredidates the PTA program at Taylor College in Belleview, FL it will decrease the perception and reputation of The PTA profession in our area. If a for-profit school is just going to churn out graduates we are all as a whole going to start being perceived as less skilled and knowledgeable. The SNFs who ultimately want the cheapest will fill up with these grads because they get to pay them $5 to $10 less per hour and it will drive the salaries down in the area. I will lose my last shred of respect for the APTA if they accredit this program. Instead of a bachelors degree with questionable benefits from the time money and effort, how about more options for specialization and more tangible results for specializing?

      Posted by PTA on 3/20/2013 8:47 PM

    • What good would a bachelors degree do? Would it improve the level of patient care? Would it give PTAs better opportunities? No, and no. So, what is the point of this?

      Posted by Betty on 3/22/2013 7:59 PM

    • If a bachelor's degree would allow a PTA to move into adminstrative postions such as Health Care Info Mgt, etc then it would be a benefit. Much of the point is to have more hands on clinic readiness and keep options open for those who need to often go back to school for a 2nd career who may, due to family or other responsibilities would not be able to enter a 4 year degree. Also as mentioned above, unless the pay level increases, the return makes little sense. If either the PTA can be licensed at 2 yrs, with the options of Health care mgt or continuing onto PT with the 4 yr then it would be an improvement, otherwise you are just hurting the field and losing good candidates

      Posted by Janicee Fish on 4/24/2013 6:26 PM

    • My AAS PTA degree required me to take several classes outside the program as prereqs (which in a Bachelor's would be req anyway and be rewarded with a Bach at the end) and also it compressed the neuroscience classes, arguably the most difficult and the most important classes, into 6 wks in length to accomodate for a clincial experience in the same semester, and I received no training in documentation. By rolling in the pre-reqs, and expanding the neuroscience classes to a full semester, plus adding a full course on documentation formats, that program, housed at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas, would be just one semester shy of a full 4 year program. our education regarding vestibular? 1 lecture. Massage? 1 lecture, 1 practical. Was MDT discussed? No. Ws there any discussion on motivation, or basic nutrition so we could understand the relationship between exercise and eating for those patients who show up at clinic on an empty stomach? Nah. The dirty little secret is that we got nearly the equivalent of a Bachelor's degree, but we didn't get any of the academic credit for it, and in order to keep us at an AAS level, they scrimped on classes that are clinically crucial. Make the change.

      Posted by Carolyn Senn on 4/26/2013 11:51 AM

    • I am a PTA who has been practicing for over ten years. Would I be "grandfathered in" as is the case with PT's who have bachelor and master degrees (would only seem fair) or would I have to go back to school to obtain a bachelor's in order to continue to practice. I am actually currently completing a bachelor's in Business Administration because the financial burden of PT school is out of my reach.....if I was ten years younger I would consider it but not at this point in my life.

      Posted by Kathleen Glanzner on 6/9/2013 1:52 PM

    • Since we are required to take two years basic college courses to be accepted into a two year associates degree PTA program we essentially ALREADY HAVE a bachelors degree so yes I would fully support the recognition for the hard work we haw already done.

      Posted by Amy on 8/7/2013 1:53 PM

    • So, whats the latest?

      Posted by Radoslaw Janczylo -> BFU\AH on 8/16/2013 4:41 PM

    • It's about time the apta starts recognizing the physical therapist assistants specially the ones that have more than ten years of clinical experience I have almost twenty eight years experience out on the field and have seen almost everything and have been able to clinically treat the patients after they have been evaluated by a pt and assigned treatment plan this only comes by experience out on the work fileld not by learning a text book in class so my point is we need to compensate the physical therapist assistant that have clinical experience in maybe taking some courses that would be indicated and transitioning them to become physical therapist with a bachelor degree

      Posted by Rick cabrera on 8/19/2013 5:45 PM

    • I am a recent PTA graduate and I do not think that making the PTA a bachelor's level degree will do anything for the profession. If you look at the current PTA programs, they all have pre-reqs to get in (e.g. Biology, Anatomy & Physiology, etc.) and when you count those credits with the credits of the program, you are close, if not at, a Bachelor's level in terms of college credits. The content would get watered down, so to speak. We had to work just for the chance to apply to the program and have a chance to get in, and then it was 2 years of straight PTA related education. I think the transition would be a mistake. The current model makes it so that people who are truly interested in being a PTA and committed to enter the field get in....and not just some undergrad who isn't quite sure what they want to do. Overall, I think the level or quality of the PTA would suffer if transitioned to a four-year Bachelor's degree. I say this as a current PTA who also has a BS in Biology, a MS in Exercise Science, and who was accepted into a PhD program (Exercise Science at UNM). I've traveled the academic route and honestly, I feel like the PTA program that I attended was very similar to the level of my MS degree. It was two years of intensive PTA specific education. You will not get that with a four-year degree. In addition to the quality of students/applicant to PTA programs I really do not see any benefit to the field of PT by making the PTA a Bachelor's degree, especially with the current Practice Acts and limits on what a PTA can/cannot do. There are arguments for and against and most are valid, either way you look. I would never say there isn't a benefit, just that the cons > pros IMHO. I just hope they use the results of this study to actually improve the quality of the field of PT. Not like the transition from BPT > MPT > DPT.

      Posted by Jason on 11/6/2013 9:56 PM

    • I already have a bachelor and master degree, I'm planning a carrier change and become a PTA. I'm registering for all general courses at this moment to be able to apply for PTA program as soon as I have met the minimum requirements. I'd like to know when the changes will take place and what will happen with PTA students who are already registered in the program?

      Posted by Claudia Silveira on 12/4/2013 12:01 PM

    • As a PTA, I would welcome the opportunity to advance my degree to a DPT. However, at this time there are only 2 bridge programs to accomplishment this. Why doesn't the APTA implement transitional programs, like they have for nurses, to allow PTA's to further their education without starting from the beginning?

      Posted by Linda on 12/25/2013 9:23 PM

    • Has anyone heard of the results on this study? I think APTA let this issue slowly slip into the background so they can ignore it. I feel like everyone else here there are pros and cons about making it mandatory for the entry level PTA to have a bachelors. I think some practice act language change would be a great start and some of the settings would feel better about utilizing us instead of throwing us to the side and hiring exercise specialist or ATCs. Nothing wrong with either of these professions but why wouldn't you choose a highly educated and qualified PTA to do the job? I do agree with a lot of people when they say that the PTA program felt like going through a masters degree program since it is intense and thorough. I'm currently advancing my PTA degree to BSPTA through Pima Medical Institute and I can say while I know how to handle myself as a current practicing PTA that continuing and advancing my education is helping me grow as a clinician. I would like to see this study and the results since APTA said it would be out in the beginning of the year 2014?

      Posted by Joe Zinger on 4/11/2014 8:24 AM

    • Many of the points expressed in this discussion are quite thoughtful and valid in regards to both the pros and the cons. However, I still have not heard an answer to a vitally important question. What will happen of the PTA's that have already graduated from college with an associates degree? Will they be grandfathered in? It certainly seems unjust to require recent graduates to obtain a bachelors, especially when they were under the impression that they would be allowed the earned privilege of working. I am also concerned that this transition to a bachelors may cause an influx of PTA's to become PT's, which may saturate the profession. I will conclude with this, I have worked in a number of different settings and have found the PTA's more than capable of performing their jobs in a competent manner. The issue of competence did not seem to correlate with education years, rather it came down to motivation, drive, and love of the profession. Any and all replies are very welcome. Sincerely, Samuel Melo

      Posted by Samuel Melo on 4/28/2014 10:24 PM

    • I have been a PTA for over 20 years and completing a Bachelor Degree in Science at the present time. It is a much needed transition from Associate to Bachelor as it better prepares for the clinical setting. I had considered furthering to the DPT program, however, there is such a gap in pay for the additional costs of the DPT program I am considering an entirely different profession.

      Posted by Karen Smothers on 5/19/2014 12:33 PM

    • I've been a PTA for three years, with a bachelors degree and some MA work as well. I feel strongly towards the PTA degree becoming a BS, as I felt we were rushed through our classes and could have spent more time addressing conditions, neurology, pediatrics, geriatrics, amputees, spinal cord issues, pathological conditions, and more- instead of trying to cram in everything together with our clinical affiliations. I feel it would make for a better prepared PTA, who has a stronger understanding on the conditions seen in all settings. I'm not trying to diagnose or create a plan of care- I just want more understanding on what I'm treating in order to assist my patients with their recovery. 14 months of diadetic and clinical work just isn't enough. I even thought this as I was in my program- that it should be longer and more focused. And there is quite a difference between programs. I did pre-reqs at one school who had a cadaver lab for the PTA students, and the school I transferred to (due to travel and tuition cost) had just skeletons and plastic models of bones for their PTA students.

      Posted by Sarah on 6/4/2014 9:23 AM

    • Advancing PTA to a bachelor's would provide better job security and more opportunities to specialize if the therapist chose to do so. It would help prevent saturation of the field and bring in a more well-rounded group of professionals into the field. It would be nice to see if APTA has actually come to a decision on this, yet. We will all be waiting for a decision!

      Posted by Jen c. on 7/6/2014 6:47 AM

    • I think it would be wise to leave the basic educational level at an Associate for an entry-level PTA. What would be helpful since most workplaces tend to pay for accredited education is to create speciality programs you can obtain through educational institutions that are recognized nationally. Also, our CEU requirements should be at the same level of requirements as a PT. Now, that being said, there should be more emphasis on practical course work.

      Posted by heidi on 7/9/2014 2:11 PM

    • Nurses have the option of 2 year degrees as well as 4 year degrees. I know in Rhode Island, you can go to the community college for your associates, then if you decide you want to continue, RI College offers a program. No reason something similar can not be done for ptas.

      Posted by Marc on 7/25/2014 9:40 AM

    • Give options like they do in nursing. Community colleges offer associates degree for nursing program, and 4 year schools offer it as a 4 year degree. But either way, you come out as an RN. But with the 4 year, you have more options . No reason something like this couldn't work for ptas.

      Posted by John on 7/25/2014 9:47 AM

    • Advancing the educational requirements for the PTA program is absurd. The extensive, in-depth, censorious and tedious training far exceeds what a few liberal arts, more general educational courses can combat. the link between AAS and BS is those first two-years courses. Tell me how HIS111 and HIS112 will allow me to treat a patient more effectively? That doesn't make my interventions more thorough, unless my clients want to hear about the CIVIL WAR when I'm doing a traction. AAS is equivalent to a BS in my eyes. Mainly, because its an APPLIED Science degree--not just a theoretical degree placement.

      Posted by Kevin, PTA on 8/1/2014 3:41 AM

    • Although I completely support the possible move in advancing the degree required, I do not feel there is a significant gap of knowledge between a PTA and PT when the PTA is an excellent student and is graduated from a reputable school of study. Unfortunately, there are many programs out there that simply miss the mark on educating the clinician with ill prepared faculty. There are also students who graduate having just done enough to get by that I would not let provide treatment to any of my loved ones. My point is that there are highly intelligent, well seasoned PTAs out there and raising the education level requirement will only help ensure more of the same caliber of students are released into our profession. It would also help those PTAs gain well deserved and needed respect from the PTs that supervise them.

      Posted by Denise Haynes on 8/13/2014 9:19 AM

    • Sooooooo, it said June 2014 a report should be completed..... Well what were their findings? I cant find any info as to whether or not they feel it should change or not...... I need answers... and yes, still offering a 2 yr PTA and 4 Yr pta for people to continue to advance just like nursing programs would be helpful.

      Posted by Valentina Lopez -> BMPc>H on 9/11/2014 11:29 AM

    • Does anyone know what happened with this feasibility of moving PTA to bachelor's degree?... Seem's to me that the Association is starting to forget that there are licensed or soon to be licensed PTAs that wants to know how to advanced their academic level to be more competent in this industry. PTAs also contribute to this Association, I hope we are not being left out...

      Posted by wanteria on 9/21/2014 2:44 AM

    • I would like to know the status of the bachelor's degree option for PTAs as I am interested in going for PTA. Tganks!

      Posted by Jeremy on 12/19/2014 1:08 PM

    • I feel like APTA could give less about PTAs seeing as how they have not published anything about the findings about turning or continuing the PTA into higher degree. They need to set it up like nursing and do PTA to BSPTA and hopefully somehow to DPT. All this said I have enrolled in a BSPTA program just to get ahead before the APTA board members actually decide on what they want to do with the PTA career field and advancing us but I highly doubt this will happen any time soon. This is why I won't subscribe to an association who cares more about DPTs and forgets an neglects PTAs. We're all here to work in PT and give the best patient care so please APTA start caring about us PTAs out here.

      Posted by Joseph on 1/6/2015 3:04 AM

    • I am 100% for it!!!!! It would eliminate 100k loans and you can get a BS in 2-4 and make 21k-53k! It would ioen up doors for the older adults 23-60 year olds. They can finish in short amount if time and make excellent money and pay off their tution in 3-6 years instead if 24 years. Please APTA allow the PTA transition to the BS Degree:)

      Posted by Marissa Lanza on 1/23/2015 11:48 AM

    • I completely agree with Carolyn. Also I feel the market is flooding and it's time to tighten the reigns.

      Posted by Kari on 1/27/2015 7:43 AM

    • Currently practicing as a LPTA in skilled nursing, wanting to further my career and training and receive a BS degree. I had come across a BSPTA through PMI and was wondering if any other PTA's on here had received this BSPTA through PMI and Pro's and con's of this. Thanks in adavance

      Posted by morgan osborne on 2/1/2015 12:38 PM

    • I would like to find out what the finding was, however I can not find it anywhere online. Will PTA programs be transitioning to Bachelor's degrees? If anyone has a link, please post it.

      Posted by Jennifer on 3/5/2015 11:59 AM

    • Morgan: Going through PMI is a nice way to finish out a bachelor's degree but it will most likely not matter in the world of physical therapy if you are thinking in the way of obtaining a job or promotion within your company (unless they have procedures already in place that specify this). More important would be a list of your continuing education experiences with in person seminars (weekend courses > one day courses) being more impressive than online format (due to hands on skills being practiced on site). Would this program help you progress to an accredited bachelor's level PTA if/when this is decided? Who knows. Most likely few if any of these courses would transfer over for many various reasons... But if you just want to finish a bachelor's degree with a focus on PT which may be more interesting to you, then go ahead and pursue it. If you have an interest in another field/hobby then pursue that so you may have more opportunities in that area in the future with a bachelor's degree. I had a bachelor's degree prior to going through the PTA program and most likely the only thing it helped with beyond the program (since it was in an exercise science field) was in negotiating starting salary fresh out of school versus some of my classmates (but this could also have been a result of being 5-10 years older than the majority and other educational accomplishments under my belt).

      Posted by Barron Shultz -> @FTaAM on 6/17/2015 5:52 PM

    • Are there any updates to this study yet that I'm just not finding? I'm surprised that the APTA would publish this article and then not follow through.

      Posted by Alisha on 8/29/2015 2:41 PM

    • I have been a Texas PTA for 26 years. I am very disappointed in our Association to have not already initiated more accredited PTA to PT transition program curriculums before now. My degree will not allow me to do anything towards the PT curriculum. I have done much of the same rehab for all these years as a PT. I have worked for and with BS, MS and DPT's. I don't even know who came up with the name "Assistant", as we have never been assisting anyone. We have carried patient loads of all types in all settings, for a lot less. We were taught so many great skills. We have been an "Associate" of the Physical Therapist. I am now too old to become a full DPT just for the title. I would have become a BSPT if they had left it a choice BS,MS, DPT like the RN board did. The big boys wanted it to be a Doctoral. I would like to see a transition from PT Assistant to BSPTA, "Bachelor of Science PT Associate", and they have my permission to change the name. They also need some transition programs from PTA to PT just saying because I've earned the right too...!

      Posted by Lonnie Dossey LPTA on 8/29/2015 4:56 PM

    • No updates yet? might as well climb up the ladder and become a PT. We might get obsolete in the future.

      Posted by Mark on 10/1/2015 3:23 AM

    • Can you (APTA) please acknowledge that you are listening to us? We would like an update. Please and thank you.

      Posted by Jeremy on 10/31/2015 10:31 PM

    • You started this article in 2012. So my question is what's taking so G.damn long for it to get done?! And how did you allow all these assistant schools to pop up on every corner, over saturating our market, leaving no jobs for us therapists who worked so hard to get to where we are. I'm so disappointed in our profession and the board members who govern it. Same for COTA schools. Transition to bachelors levels NOW and bridge this gap. Doctorate level & associate level salaries shouldn't be as close as it is. DO SOMETHING besides just talking about it.

      Posted by Kay Kells on 11/21/2015 10:18 PM

    • Forget commenting in the comments section I have started a petition about this click on the link below to sign it ! https://www.change.org/p/american-physical-therapy-association-house-of-delegates-of-the-apta-apta-house-of-delegates-nudge-apta-to-make-a-decision-on-pta-education-to-bachelor-degree-level?recruiter=219787386&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink

      Posted by Nancy on 12/14/2015 4:02 PM

    • Please do I desperately want PTA to be a bachelor's degree. I have my associates and want to continue further education for a bachelors but there is no opportunity for us to prosper to a higher degree in our field. Also I find it is very limiting on what we can do with an associates degree. One of my dreams is to teach English in Japan for a few years and it's not possible without a bachelor's degree.

      Posted by Jasmine on 5/25/2016 8:36 PM

    • Do we know if the change is in the works yet? Will assiociates automatically be grandfathered in as a Bachelors, or will we have to take some sort of additional classes?

      Posted by amber presley on 1/22/2017 1:00 PM

    • I just got accepted into the PTA program. There are only two in the state of CO. So for all of that work done and other classes that were required should be taken into account to go towards a BA instead of them denying to give us credit. More money, more problems for us individuals that have already taken the time. If they can implement CEU's to bridge to become a DPT that would be great! But the downside, the employers will have to increase their budgets to higher salaries with the PTA's they already have. It is the same thing as being a nurse that has her AAS or BA they get paid relatively the same. AAS nurses cannot take a management position. I feel that this does weed out others so the market isn't saturated. But what about the others that are already in it? Do I hear being grandfathered? But then again if you increase the value to be so close to becoming a PT then how many PTA's will you have left to treat? Will they allow PTA's to also perform New Evals? There is no difference with care between a BPT MPT and a DPT based off of the courses offered to become those titles, just the cost in tuition is the difference. The things that make great rounded clinicians are other CEU's that they are willing to take and willing to know and willing to add to their credentials of employment, not increasing the schooling from institutes just to gain a title. This debate has been going on for a great deal of time.

      Posted by TJ on 7/11/2017 11:10 AM

    • I love this idea, we need to bridge the gap. I think it will help earn us some respect. In today society it's all about the letters behind your name. Patient will usually perfer a PT even if the PTA has more experience and is very knowledable! With that said, this will not happen! I am sorry but a good amount PTs and the APTA want us to stay on bottom of the totem pole. With due respect to the schooling they have, I have met PTAs that have more skill in the clinic then some PTs do. We can see, this article is how old and nothing!!!!! They really need to get their ego out of the game!!! No one is stealing their jobs. Some places do not even hire PTAs. Get over yourselves and work together.

      Posted by Joanna Monteiro on 11/9/2017 8:56 AM

    • What Joanna said ^^^

      Posted by Andy on 2/22/2018 9:48 AM

    • The ACOTE is now mandating that OTA become a baccalaureate by July 1, 2027. I hope that CAPTE will follow as well. There is definitely a huge gap between PTA and PT, more than there is for OTA to OT.

      Posted by shalayne stinson on 3/7/2018 10:02 AM

    • I was just wondering if anyone has completed the BSPTA program online? PIMA Medical Institue offers the PTA who has an associate degree the course sequence to earn a Bachelors of Science in PTA all online. The course sequence consists of taking two classes every 7 1/2 weeks with a one week break at the end of the 15 week mark. You would earn a Bachelors of Science PTA in about 15 months for $21000. Books included and all online. Any advice or comments would be appreciated.

      Posted by Chris Nelson on 3/20/2018 6:39 PM

    • PTAs absolutely need to transition to BA! The gap between PTA and PT is far to wide and really exposes patients to increased incidences of harm due to the lack of knowledge of PTAs- especially new graduates- in various settings. Now that government is looking at no longer reimbursing PTAs, I would highly consider advocating for it to become a BA, and for PTAs in general, to show how important they are in cost effective healthcare and productivity. On a lighter note, if we lose PTAs, no one will be around to see that patient everyday none of the PTs want to deal with but put on caseload anyway.

      Posted by Sarah on 3/27/2018 11:41 PM

    • Hello, I currently attend Herzing University in orlando FL. I really think it would be a good idea to turn it in to a bachelors degree it just makes sense. Any news on if this is actually going to happen ?

      Posted by Kailey kearney on 4/22/2018 12:10 AM

    • Hello, I'm a PTA student and I will be graduating next year. I'm planning on continuing but I'm still wondering which will be a transition from having a degree to Ph.D. Do I need to have a bachelor degree in order to apply for Ph.D.???

      Posted by NEEMA MWAKATOBE on 7/12/2019 1:42 PM

    • Congratulations on working on your PTA degree! A bachelor’s degree is required to pursue an academic doctorate (eg, EdD, PhD, DSc). Once you complete your associate’s degree in PTA, you could pursue a bachelor’s degree in any number or majors that would support your career goals. I’d suggest you meet with your academic advisor or college career counselor to discuss options for transfer to a baccalaureate degree program and potential majors. If you are considering pursuing a professional doctorate, like a DPT degree, then you may have other options, such as a PTA-PT bridge program. You may also be able to identify programs in PTCAS that do not require a bachelor’s degree for application. I’d suggest you contact schools of interest directly to discuss options.

      Posted by APTA Staff on 7/15/2019 7:45 AM

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