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Physical Therapist Assistant

Tampa, FL

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Degree Overview

Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assistant

Anthony Arredondo, Physical Therapist Assistant, South University
Anthony Arredondo, Physical Therapist Assistant, South University

The Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assistant 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 Tampa 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 Tampa campus.

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.

It is up to each student to review the national and state licensure requirements for licensure, as well as the eligibility criteria to sit for licensure exams. South University cannot guarantee each graduate will pass the required licensure examinations. Outside agencies control the requirements for taking and passing certification/licensing exams and are subject to change without notice to South University.

*South University does not promise or guarantee employment.

capte logo

Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at South University, Tampa, is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; telephone: 703-706-3245; email: accreditation@apta.org; website: http://www.capteonline.org. If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 813-393-3973 or email dbrawner@southuniversity.edu.

Graduation Rate

83%

South University Tampa's PTA Program graduation rate for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Ultimate Pass Rate

97%

South University Tampa's PTA Program NPTE ultimate licensure exam pass rate for 2021-2022 academic year.

first-time Pass Rate

90%

South University Tampa's PTA Program NPTE first-time licensure exam pass rate for 2021-2022 academic year.

Employment Rate

98%

South University Tampa's PTA Program graduate employment rate for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Financial Fact Sheet

Click the link for the South University, Tampa Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program Student Financial Fact Sheet.

Admission Requirements

Procedure for Admission to the Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant Program

Admission into the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program is a two-step process:

  1. Candidates are eligible to enter the general education phase of the PTA program as “PTA students” by meeting South University’s General Undergraduate Admission Requirements.
  2. Candidates must complete prerequisite coursework and meet all requirements outlined below to be eligible for admission to the professional phase of the PTA program.

Students may transfer prerequisite courses into the program before entering the professional phase if approved by the registrar. The coursework that is transferred to South University must permit the student to obtain a 2.75 CGPA by the time the student applies for admission into the PTA Professional Phase. Students who transfer coursework into South University, but cannot mathematically attain a CGPA of 2.75 by the time they would enter the professional phase, will not be admitted to the PTA program.

Transfer credit will not be accepted for courses in the South University PTA Professional Phase Curriculum.

Note: This does not apply to South University PTA students (in good standing) transferring between campuses.

Students from South University who are in another major will be permitted to transfer into the general education phase of the PTA program if they meet all requirements as stated in the PTA Program Change Policy. Applicants must satisfy technical standards for the PTA program in order to be admitted.

Admission Requirements for the Professional Phase of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program

Applicants must apply for admission into the professional phase of the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA)
program. Applicants must submit a complete application packet and meet all admission requirements as stated below to enter the ranking process. The professional phase slots will be filled by applicants with the greatest academic potential for success as determined by the ranking process. Applicants with the highest numerical ranking will be admitted to the professional phase of the program.

The criteria to determine admission to the PTA program include:

  1. Application must be submitted seven (7) weeks prior to the start of the professional phase of the program.
  2. Applicants must meet the Essential Functions and Technical Standards (listed in the application for admission and the program student handbook) of the program in order to enter the ranking process.
  3. Applicants must complete a health screening, at their own cost, utilizing a program-specific physical exam form, verifying medical clearance.
  4. Applicants must complete a background check at their own cost using the agency identified by the PTA Program Director. Applicants must meet timelines and requirements as detailed in the application packet. The PTA program follows the College of Health Professions Background Check Policy located in the South University Catalog (www.southuniversity.edu/admissions/academic-catalog). Applicants are not eligible for admittance into the Professional Phase of the PTA program if they have a felony conviction, plea, or adjudication withheld, or any disqualifying misdemeanor, for which a pardon or exemption for disqualification has not been received, including but not limited to rape or sexual abuse or molestation, and abuse, endangerment, or neglect of a child, disabled person, or elderly person.
  5. Applicants must complete a drug screen at their own cost using the agency identified by the PTA Program Director. Applicants must meet timelines and requirements as detailed in the application packet. The PTA program follows the College of Health Professions Substance Abuse and Screening Policy located in the South University Catalog (www.southuniversity.edu/admissions/academic-catalog). Applicants with positive drug screen results will not be admitted into Professional Phase of the PTA Program. Applicants may be eligible to reapply to a future admissions cycle (see PTA Program Director).
  6. Applicants must complete 20 hours of observations of the practice of physical therapy and submit documentation on program-provided forms.
  7. Applicants must achieve a 2.75 CGPA or greater in prerequisite coursework. All prerequisite coursework must be successfully completed prior to entry into the Professional Phase of the PTA Program.
  8. The following science prerequisite courses require a grade of C or higher and must be completed within 7 years of the start date of the Professional Phase of the program.
    1. AHS1001 Medical Terminology
    2. BIO1011 Anatomy and Physiology I
    3. BIO1012 Anatomy and Physiology I Lab
    4. BIO1013 Anatomy and Physiology II
    5. BIO1014 Anatomy and Physiology II Lab
  9. Applicants must submit ATI Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) scores. Scores will not be accepted if greater than 5 years old. A score of “proficient” is preferred.
  10. Ranking will be based upon:
    1. Cumulative GPA in required prerequisite coursework (2.75 or greater required).
    2. Science GPA (see 8 a-e above)).
    3. The ATI Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) (score of “Proficient” is preferred).
    4. Repeating a course to achieve a higher grade is associated with penalty point deductions from the ranking score.
  11. The number of students entering the professional phase is established in accordance with regulations set forth by the program’s accrediting body.

Post-Acceptance Requirements

All accepted PTA applicants are responsible for meeting assigned deadlines for completion of post-acceptance requirements as published within the campus-specific PTA Enrollment Guide. Failure to submit the following post-acceptance requirements will deem a student ineligible for clinical education courses, which may result in dismissal from the program.

Accepted PTA students must:

  1. Complete an American Heart Association Basic Life Support (BLS) CPR certification course and provide a copy of a valid certification/card. The certification/card must remain valid throughout all clinical rotations.
  2. Submit proof of required immunizations as identified in the PTA Enrollment Guide through the compliance platform.
  3. Submit a Level 2 background check (Florida students only). This must be performed at the student’s own cost, using the agency identified by the PTA Program Director.
  4. Understand that additional drug screening, background checks, immunizations, tuberculosis screening, and/or medical clearance may be required by some clinical sites. All associated fees are the responsibility of the student.

Professional Standards for Physical Therapist Assistant Students

The following standards reflect expectations of a student in the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Program for the performance of common physical therapy functions. In adopting these standards, the PTA Program is mindful of the patient's right to safe function in a broad variety of clinical situations while receiving physical therapy interventions. The PTA student must be able to apply the knowledge and skills necessary to function in a broad variety of clinical situations while administering physical therapy interventions. These standards do not encompass all that may be required for employment of the PTA Program graduate. In order to verify the students' ability to perform these essential functions, students are required to demonstrate the following technical standards throughout the curriculum.

The faculty is the sole judge of a student's ability to meet these standards through successful completion of the requirements of the program and individual courses.

  1. Critical Thinking/Problem Solving Skills. Ability to collect, interpret and integrate information and use that information to make appropriate decisions.
  2. Interpersonal Skills. Ability to collaboratively work with all PTA students and with program faculty and patients in the classroom, lab, and clinical setting.
  3. Coping Skills. Ability to respond appropriately to stressful environments or during impending deadlines.
  4. Communication Skills. Ability to communicate effectively in English using verbal, nonverbal and written formats with faculty, other students, patients, families, and healthcare workers.
  5. Mobility/Motor Skills. Sufficient motor ability to execute the movement and skills required for safe and effective physical therapy treatment in various clinical settings.
  6. Sensory Abilities. Sufficient visual, auditory, and tactile ability to monitor and assess health needs.
  7. Behavioral Skills. Ability to demonstrate professional behaviors and a strong work ethic.

The Physical Therapist Assistant program fully supports the provision of reasonable accommodations to students with special needs. Program requirements will not be altered. Instead, it is the policy of South University to provide reasonable accommodations to students with special needs who request them so that they can meet the program requirements. It is the students' responsibility to contact the Dean of Student Affairs/Office of Disability Support Services with documentation to support their need for accommodations. Students are encouraged to contact the Dean of Student Affairs and/or Program Director as early as possible to discuss their particular situation.

Both Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C.A. Section 794, and the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibit discrimination against "otherwise qualified" persons with a disability. If an applicant can perform the Technical Standards listed above, the applicant is "otherwise qualified" under the law and must be treated the same as a person without a disability. A person who cannot perform the Technical Standards is not "otherwise qualified" and may be denied access to the program without discrimination.

For additional admissions information please see the admissions section here.

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 98,700 physical therapist assistants employed in 2019. Employment of physical therapist assists is projected to grow 33% from 2019-2029, much faster than the average for all occupations (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapist-assistants-and-aides.htm#tab-6). 

licensure

Graduation from a CAPTE accredited physical therapist assistant education program or its equivalency and passage of the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) is required for licensure.  Graduation from this program does not guarantee licensure as a PTA, and it is the student’s responsibility to be aware of the licensure requirements in each state. Complete information on practice acts and regulations can be obtained from the individual state licensing boards or through The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (www.fsbpt.org).  Specific information regarding application for licensure will be available to the student during the last term of study.

Course Requirements

Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assistant: 110 Credits

Offered at Austin, Columbia, Montgomery, Savannah, Tampa, and West Palm Beach.

Area I General Education: 32 Credits
Basic Communications
ENG1100 Composition I 4.0 Credit Hours

Choose one of the following required electives:

ENG1200 Composition II 4.0 Credit Hours
SPC1026 Public Speaking 4.0 Credit Hours
Mathematics and Statistics

Choose one of the following:

MAT1001 College Algebra I 4.0 Credit Hours
MAT1005 College Algebra II 4.0 Credit Hours
Natural Sciences

(must be taken concurrently)

(must be taken concurrently)

Social and Behavioral Sciences
PSY1001 General Psychology 4.0 Credit Hours
Area II Foundation Requirements: 4 Credits
AHS1001 Medical Terminology 4.0 Credit Hours
Area III Professional Phase: 74 Credits

The Montgomery, Savannah, and West Palm Beach campuses follow a 9-quarter sequence of courses (evening classes)

Area III Professional Phase: 74 Credits

The Austin, Columbia, and Tampa campuses follow an 8-quarter sequence of courses:

PTA1001 can be taken prior to acceptance into the professional phase in Austin, Columbia, Richmond, Tampa, and Virginia Beach.)

Outcomes

In keeping with the stated purpose of South University, the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program strives to produce physical therapist assistants who, under the direction and supervision of physical therapists, reflect the highest standards of practice and conduct within the profession of physical therapy.

A physical therapist assistant is an educated health care provider who works under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. Duties include assisting the physical therapist in implementing treatment programs according to the plan of care, training patients in exercise 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. (www.apta.org)

Program Student Learning Outcomes

Graduates will be able to:

  1. Provide safe, efficient, efficacious interventions within the plan of care established by the physical therapist.
  2. Communicate using effective and culturally competent verbal, nonverbal, written, and digital communication.
  3. Provide effective education to patients, caregivers, and members of the healthcare team.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to appropriately and efficiently utilize resources to provide high- value physical therapy services.
  5. Recognize the importance of maintaining competence in applicable areas of physical therapy practice.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to work within the guidelines and standards established by regulatory, professional, and organizational entities.
  7. Demonstrate behaviors consistent with the Core Values of the profession of physical therapy.

Graduation from a CAPTE accredited physical therapist assistant education program or its equivalency and passage of the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) is required for licensure. Graduation from this program does not guarantee licensure as a PTA, and it is the student's responsibility to be aware of the licensure requirements in each state. Complete information on practice acts and regulations can be obtained from the individual state licensing boards or through The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (www.fsbpt.org). Specific information regarding application for licensure will be available to the student during the last term of study.

Comments and Concerns

All Fields Are Required

Note: Complaints regarding accreditation may be submitted directly to the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Information regarding this process can be found online at http://www.capteonline.org/Complaints//

To file an anonymous complaint, please submit the comment, concern, or complaint in a written letter or via email directly to the campus.

Authorization for South University to contact you to collect additional factual information regarding your comment, concern, or complaint

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Physical Therapist Assistant Program at South University

You want to make a difference. You want to give back. You want to help people work their way back to health and wellness. Put your compassion and people skills to work with a career in physical therapy. A Physical Therapist Assistant degree can do more than improve your life. It’s a meaningful way to improve the life of others, too.

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Campuses offer flexible learning formats* including: on-campus, virtual instructions, and online courses.

*Clinical, practicum, and externship requirements exist in certain programs and require field experiences. Learning formats may not be flexible.

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Success Stories

Outstanding Education for Remarkable Careers

We're committed to helping our graduates make an impact in their professional and personal lives. We applaud our alumni and the difference they make. Check out what some of our healthcare graduates have to say.

Robyn Smith 2007
Robyn Smith Grad Alumni
Class of '07
Associate of Science in Physical Therapy Assistant-South University, Montgomery

“I had only heard good things about their PTA program and I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I find it very rewarding and emotional when a patient of mine who hasn't walked in a while takes steps again. It makes going to work everyday worth it to know that i can help improve the quality of life for some of these people.”

Allyson Obluck 2017
Allyson Obluck Grad Alumni
Class of '17
Associate of Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant-South University, Tampa

“I wanted to make a difference and I knew occupational therapy was a hands-on way to improve quality of life for many people. My professors always made the effort to ensure that I understood the material and were constantly encouraging me to be better and do better. All of my experiences throughout my clinical rotations challenged me to think outside the box and to trust my instincts.”

Laceye A. Parker 2010
Laceye Parker Grad Alumni
Class of '13
Doctor of Pharmacy-South University, Columbia

“I had always been interested in healthcare, and as a child thought about becoming a physician. But when both my grandfathers became seriously ill, I came to a new appreciation of the vital role that pharmacists play in achieving positive outcomes for patients. As soon as I completed my master's degree, I decided to enter South University's Doctor of Pharmacy program. I've learned through my work at SCDHEC, and in my MBA program and Pharmacy School at South University, is laying a firm foundation for my career as a pharmacist.”

Crystal May 2014
Crystal May Grad Alumni
Class of '14
Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management-South University, Richmond

“The staff was the heart of my experience at South. The staff worked together to provide a positive learning environment and truly had passion in educating the students. The staff helped me identify my strength and interest in the financial avenue of healthcare, and helped me see the benefits of pursuing this career. South University gave me the tools I need to be successful and validated my capabilities to be a successful professional.”

Cassandra E Rhodes 2007
Cassandra Rhodes Grad Alumni
Class of '08
Master of Healthcare Administration-South University, Columbia

“By furthering my education, I was given several opportunities for promotion and life-long learning and skill application. South University successfully prepared me for my current career by allowing me to learn more about the healthcare management systems.”