Physical therapist assistants are healthcare providers who work under the supervision of physical therapists. Their duties include assisting the physical therapist in implementing treatment programs according to a plan of care, training patients in exercises and activities of daily living, conducting treatments using special equipment, administering modalities and other treatment procedures and reporting to the physical therapist on the patient's responses.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics, there were approximately 71,400 physical therapist assistants employed in 2012. That number is expected to grow by 41% from 2012-2022, due to the growing number of individuals with disabilities or limited function and the increasing use of physical therapist assistants to reduce the cost of therapeutic services.
The PTA program offers a curriculum that is well-rounded in all fundamental concepts and theories as they apply to physical therapy modalities and rehabilitation procedures. The technical phase of the South University Richmond Physical Therapist Assistant program consists of five academic quarters of lecture, laboratory, and clinical coursework. The academic program is taught during the day at the Richmond campus.
Clinical Experience and Externship
The program has one part-time and two full-time clinical education experiences in which students complete 660 hours of clinical education. The first clinical experience is integrated into the second quarter of the technical phase of the program. The second and third clinicals take place during the last two quarters of the curriculum, with students returning to campus to complete a course in Current Rehabilitation Issues between the clinical experiences. This course allows for the integration of clinical experiences with didactic materials and the opportunity to correct deficiencies identified in the assessment of the student's performance in the clinic. The clinical experiences are chosen from a variety of settings, which may include hospitals, nursing homes, sub-acute facilities, and outpatient centers with which the program has entered into clinical agreements.
For information about the South University Richmond Physical Therapist Assistant program, please contact the program faculty listed under the Helpful Links tab.