Woman with orthopedic problem exercising with ball while physiotherapist supporting her

How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA)

What You Need to Know About the Qualifications, Requirements, and Responsibilities of Physical Therapist Assistants

Therapist treating injured knee of athlete male patient

Finding a job that not only pays the bills but also satisfies your personal ambitions can be difficult. It’s important that you love what you do, so that someday your job doesn’t feel much like a “job” at all. The healthcare industry provides millions of people with redeeming careers that range in salary, schedule, and work setting.

Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) are one of the most in-demand positions in the healthcare industry. If you’re in search of a rewarding profession in which you can help others while staying active, you should consider a career as a physical therapist assistant.

If you’re interested to learn about this rapidly growing occupation, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on how to become a PTA. Continue reading to find out what you need to do in order to become a PTA, as well as what makes this career so rewarding.

What Is a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA)?

Physical therapist assistants, or PTAs, help patients recover from injury or disability. A PTA works directly under the supervision of a physical therapist; however they’re still involved with the patients directly.

In fact, this is one of the main differentiators between a “physical therapist assistant” and a “physical therapist aid.” A physical therapist aid is only given responsibilities indirectly related to the patient, such as cleaning, transporting patients, and clerical duties.

What Does a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Do?

Physical therapist assistants have varying duties when it comes to patient care. They are members of a team dedicated to helping patients recover their strength and mobility to perform daily tasks and activities.

PTA’s assist in the treatment of patients of all ages who have medical conditions that limit their ability to move and perform daily activities. There are number of different conditions that are treated with physical therapy. Some of the most common conditions include sports-related injuries such as concussion and tennis elbow, as well as neurological conditions such as stroke or spinal cord injuries.

Some of the treatments that physical therapist assistants are authorized to conduct include massage, exercise, and electrical stimulation.

PTA’s are also responsible for obtaining and recording data regarding the patient’s treatments, and implementing changes based on that data in order to improve their journey to recovery.

How Much Do Physical Therapist Assistants Make?

One of the most promising aspects of becoming a PTA is the significant salary you can receive as soon as you land a job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the reported median salary for all physical therapist assistants was $58,040. The salary of a PTA can vary, however, depending on where they are employed. For example, the BLS reports that PTA’s working in nursing care facilities make an average salary of $66,440.  PTA’s working in home healthcare services make an average salary of $62,340, while PTA’s working in offices of physicians make an average salary of $54,360.

It’s evident that the career outlook for a PTA is bright, but what does it take to become one?

What Is the Job Outlook for a PTA?

Woman with orthopedic problem exercising with ball while physiotherapist supporting her

Now is the perfect time to become a physical therapist assistant since career opportunities for PTA’s are growing rapidly.

According to the BLS, employment of physical therapist assistants is projected to grow 31 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. As chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity have become more prevalent in recent years, more physical therapist assistants will be needed to manage the effects of these conditions and support patients in maintaining mobility. The BLS also reports that job prospects will be particularly prevalent where the elderly are most often treated, such as nursing homes and home health.

How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA)?

Multinational interns and professor having discussion

Now that you know what a PTA does, and how much they make, here’s a step-by-step guide on what you need to do to become one:

Step 1: Find an Accredited Physical Therapist Assistant Program

In order to become a PTA, you’ll need to earn an Associate’s degree from an accredited PTA program. When choosing a school to attend, it’s important to know the duration of the program, the credibility of the school, and the cost of the program.

The average length of a PTA program is typically 2 years (5 semesters). The program begins with general education courses and progresses into PT courses and clinical education. Some of the subjects that are covered throughout the curriculum include anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, neuroscience, and biomechanics. The curriculum is about 75% classroom orientated, with the remaining 25% dedicated to clinicals.

Accreditation, length, and affordability should all play a role in finding the right program for you. The only recognized accreditation for PTA programs is CAPTE, and you’ll only be able to take the licensure exam if your program is CAPTE accredited. If you lead a busy life and can’t be in class full time, many programs offer a significant portion of their curriculum online. Some other factors you should consider when researching PTA programs include campus setting, licensure pass rates, and size of college.

For those looking for in-depth data about CAPTE accredited PTA programs, they do provide some expansive information available here.

Step 2: Pass the PTA Licensing Exam

Unless you’re living in Colorado or Hawaii, you’ll need to pass the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) before you can begin looking for a job. Once you’ve graduated from a PTA program, you’re eligible to apply for the exam.

It’s imperative that applicants are adequately prepared for the exam, as retakes are only allowed three times per year, and six times total. The minimum passing score for the PTA exam is a 600, with scoring ranging from 200-800. Official practice exams are available through the Practice Exam & Assessment Tool (PEAT) website. There’s also access to some sample questions on the FSBPT website available for free here.

Requirements for licensure do vary by state, so it’s important to know your states individual process. More information can be found at The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy website.

Step 3: Prepare Yourself for Interviewing and Begin Applying

If you’ve earned your degree, and have successfully passed your state’s licensure exam, you’re almost ready to begin your career as a PTA. However, just like any career, it’s important to polish up your skills and prepare yourself for the interviewing process. Look back at your education and work experience. If necessary, begin cultivating or enhancing the necessary skillsets that healthcare employers are seeking.

As a PTA, your communication skills should also be on full display when interviewing, as employers are looking for applicants that will be able to effectively instruct and motivate their patients. Employers are also looking for applicants that are detail oriented and possess a strong ability to multitask. You must be prepared to carefully track patient progress while simultaneously assisting many patients at one time.

Before you begin applying, you’ll also want to determine your preferred practice areas. PTA’s work in a variety of environments including hospitals, offices, nursing care facilities, in-home healthcare, and athletic organizations. While the work environment may depend on your location, it’s always helpful to narrow your search and tailor your resume to what you enjoy most.

Are You Ready to Start Your Career as a Physical Therapist Assistant?

Now that you know everything there is to know when it comes to becoming a PTA, do you feel ready to jump in? If so, you can find out more about Provo College’s PTA here. We’re ready to help you find success as a physical therapist assistant.

A Drone Could Be Your Next Co-Worker

A Drone Could Be Your Next Co-Worker

A Drone Could Be Your Next Co-Worker

Robotic technology could soon change the working environment of hospitals in big, big ways. These include robots that follow doctors on rounds, robots that assist the elderly, and robots that literally lift and carry human patients so a nurse won’t risk injury while moving them.

Many of these robots are still in the testing phase and won’t be making it to your hospital halls any time soon. But the skies outside your hospital are a whole other story, and as of April, it’s no longer a test…it’s reality.

This April, for the first time in history, an organ was delivered for transplant by an unmanned drone. A patient in Baltimore, Trina Glispy, had undergone dialysis for over eight years and was in desperate need of a kidney. When one became available, Trina agreed to the drone flight—a technology that doctors and researchers believe could speed up organ delivery times, expand access to more organs, and ultimately improve patient outcomes.

The flight was a success, and more importantly, so was Trina’s surgery.

“This whole thing is amazing. Years ago, this was not something that you would think about,” said Ms. Glispy.

Drones have been used to make deliveries for some time now, with companies such as Amazon investing more and more into unmanned aerial deliveries, but medical supplies—living organs in particular—require much more planning and preservation than the average cardboard box.

“As a result of the outstanding collaboration among surgeons, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), engineers, organ procurement specialists, pilots, nurses and, ultimately, the patient, we were able to make a pioneering breakthrough in transplantation,” said Joseph Scalea, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery at UMSOM, project leader and one of the surgeons who performed the transplant at UMMC. “This was a complex process.  We were successful because of the dedication of all of the people involved over a long period of time.”

The challenges the drone and the team of pilots faced weren’t small. First, the organ had to be constantly monitored during the flight, with updates being transmitted to both the pilots and the receiving hospital. Conditions within the cargo space had to be maintained precisely in order to prevent damage.

“When we started this project, I quickly realized there were a number of unmet needs in organ transport,” said Dr. Scalea.  “For example, there is currently no way to track an organ’s location and health while in transit. Even in the modern era, human organs are unmonitored during flight.  I found this to be unacceptable. Real-time organ monitoring is mission-critical to this experience.”

And the flight itself followed a course through an urban living area—a path lined with obstacles, airwave interference, and other unpredictable challenges.

“As astonishing as this breakthrough is from a purely engineering point of view, there’s a larger purpose at stake,” explains Darryll J. Pines, Ph.D., Dean of the A. James Clark School of Engineering and the Nariman Farvardin Professor of Aerospace Engineering. “It’s ultimately not about the technology; it’s about enhancing human life.”

As every nurse knows, any breakthrough in organ transplant and transportation is excellent news. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, there were nearly 114,000 people on organ waiting lists in 2018, and only 36,500 transplants actually performed.

Hopefully with the introduction of a better delivery system, those numbers can soon begin to improve.

If you are interested in beginning your own career as a nurse or medical assistant, Provo College can help make that dream a reality. Contact us today for more information!

The Advantages of a BSN Degree

The Advantages of a BSN Degree

The Advantages of a BSN Degree

Have you been looking into Registered Nurse programs, or even accelerated RN programs? Maybe you’re already an RN but you’d like to advance your career. RN to BSN programs generally provide an excellent foundation for leadership roles, greater salaries, and management positions.

An article by Nurse Journal—a social community for nurses worldwide—delves into the many benefits of obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Below we’ve included some of our favorites from their list!

1. Greater Salaries. According to BSNedu.org, “Registered nurses holding BSN degrees can expect to earn higher salaries than those with associate’s degrees or diplomas. This is a key factor driving increased enrollment in pre-licensure BSN programs, and is cited as the number one reason why licensed RNs return to school for RN to BSN completion programs.

American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) statistics from January 2014 revealed that the average salary for an RN was $66,620, while the average for BSN-educated RNs was $75,484.”

2. Wider Range of Nursing Careers. Nurse Journal’s article highlights the importance of a BSN degree. They state that a bachelor’s degree is essential when it comes to enrolling in many graduate nursing programs: “Four of the highest paying nursing jobs—nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist and clinical nurse specialist—require you to have a BSN.” They also add that a BSN degree is usually necessary if a nurse would like to move from basic clinical care to administration or teaching roles.

3. Learn More Than Clinical Skills. If you obtain a BSN, you will acquire skills beyond the basics of clinical care. BSN curriculums tend to also focus on communication, critical thinking, and leadership skills. According to Nurse Journal, knowledge in each area is essential if you would like to gain higher paying jobs with added responsibilities. Nurse Journal also notes that the American Association of the Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recognizes the BSN degree as an educational requirement for professional nursing practice.

4. Provide Better Patient Care. While this isn’t always the case, generally speaking, RNs equipped with a BSN degree will likely provide better patient care. Nurse Journal explains with the following: “The AACN has collected extensive research that indicates that higher nursing education makes a major difference in clinical outcomes. Nurses with a BSN have better patient outcomes, including lower mortality rates and lower failure to rescue rates as well. The research also indicates that BSN holders have higher proficiency in making good diagnoses.”

5. Greater Odds of Employment at Hospitals. The American Nurses Association (ANA) awards certain nurses a “magnet” designation. This status is highly sought-after by hospitals, and one of the requirements of the designation is the education level of the nursing staff. According to Nurse Journal, the “ANA requires that 75% of nurse managers have a BSN as of Jan. 1, 2011, and 100% had to have a BSN by Jan. 1, 2013.”

6. More Opportunities for Professional Advancement. Earning a BSN degree can open your career to intriguing specialties in areas like pediatrics, gynecology, surgery, oncology, diabetes, psychiatry, etc. An RN with a BSN will no longer be limited in their opportunities for career advancement. In this increasingly competitive world, a BSN degree can only boost your chances of landing your dream job!

7. Higher Education May Be a Requirement in the Future. Another benefit of obtaining your BSN degree now is that doing so may actually become a requirement in the future. Nurse Journal elaborates on this potential prerequisite: “The Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a study on the nursing profession. It recommended that BSN holders be increased from 50% to 80% by 2020. Nurses are being strongly encouraged to get their BSN within five years of earning a diploma or an associate’s degree.

The AACN is following the recommendations of the IOM and is also making the same recommendation. As these large, respected medical institutions make these recommendations, employers in the healthcare field tend to follow them as well. This means that many healthcare employers could require that their nurses earn their BSN by 2020.”

About the BSN Program at Provo College

Provo offers a BSN program that can lead to work as a Registered Nurse in these healthcare settings, among others: complex and critical care, acute care, long-term care, community health nursing, school nursing, and home health. Of course, obtaining a BSN degree will prepare you to sit for the NCLEX-RN licensure examination.

Graduates of Provo’s BSN program are fully trained in the following areas:

  • Patient care
  • Nursing fundamentals
  • Pharmacology
  • Therapeutic treatment interventions
  • Medical/surgical nursing
  • Leadership
  • Mental health nursing
  • Mother/baby and pediatric nursing
  • Licensure examination preparation

For more information, please contact a school representative at (801) 818-8901!

Happy National Nurses Week

Happy National Nurses Week!

Happy National Nurses Week

At hospitals around the world—and here at Provo College, of course—every week is Nurses Week. When you see firsthand how hard nurses work, how many lives they touch, and how selflessly they serve, it’s next to impossible not to be in awe of these heroes in scrubs.

This week, however, the rest of the country officially joins in, and the result can mean some fun rewards and thank-you gifts…if you know where to look. Here are just a handful of the businesses officially celebrating this year:

Cinnabon – If there’s a Cinnabon near you, stop by next week for something warm, sweet, and free. As a supporter of the DAISY Foundation, helping nurses is a priority for the Cinnabon company.

MOD Pizza – Celebrate the people everyone loves (nurses) with the food everyone loves (pizza). Nurses can visit MOD Pizza on Sunday, May 12 for buy-one-get-one-free pizza and salad.

Enlightened Ice Cream – Speaking of foods everyone loves, Enlightened Ice Cream is donating free pints to nurses, celebrating those who “make the world a little brighter.” You can collect your coupon (or send one to a nurse friend) at this link.

Uniform Advantage – Food not your thing? Want something more practical? How about scrubs? Uniform Advantage is offering 50% off everything site-wide in honor of nurses. That’s all types of scrubs, brands, footwear, and accessories.

DiscountGlasses.com – If you or one of your co-workers wear glasses, this week might be a good time to grab a back-up pair. Use the code HEARTNURSES30 sometime this week for 30% your purchase. Or go here and use HEARTNURSES15 for 15% off contact lenses…if frames aren’t your thing.

Amazon – Grab one or all of these free Kindle books on nursing—we’ve seen everything from historical books to memoirs to educational texts and fiction.

Continuing Education Credits – Have a few CE credits to earn? Why not knock out a few courses for free, available this week courtesy of BAYADA.

Contests and Giveaways – Bring home something big this National Nurses week by entering one of the many Nurses Week giveaways, such as these at NerdyNurse.com. You can win anything from high-end footwear to next-gen medical equipment.

Play Some Cards – Nurses are expert card players…according to at least one now infamous politician. And one company is having some fun with the situation, by offering a free deck of cards to all nurses. However, they need some help designing the cards first—and if they pick your design, you could win a quick getaway as well.

The perks and rewards don’t stop here, so if you have a favorite chain, restaurant, store, or service, be sure and ask if they’re offering any discounts or freebies next week. Of course, none of these gifts even come close to showing the full debt of gratitude owed you, but it’s a start. So enjoy, and again…thank you!

If you are interested in beginning your own career as a nurse or medical assistant, Provo College can help make that dream a reality. Contact us today for more information!

Medical Assistants to Help Prevent Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Medical Assistants to Help Prevent Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Medical Assistants to Help Prevent Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

In December of 2018, the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) renewed their efforts to spread awareness about fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). According to the AAMA, “Prenatal alcohol exposure is a leading preventable cause of birth defects and developmental disabilities. The term FASDs is used to define the range of physical, mental, behavioral, and learning disabilities that can result from prenatal alcohol exposure.”

For the past four years, the AAMA has collaborated with the Mountain Plains FASD Practice and Implementation Center (Mountain Plains PIC) in a coordinated national effort to prevent FASDs. They have joined forces to better prepare Medical Assistants to “reduce alcohol-exposed pregnancies (AEPs) and intervene with patients who engage in risky or hazardous alcohol use.” Additionally, this not-for-profit initiative is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, recent funding from the CDC will allow for continued collaboration through 2022!

Check out what the AAMA had to say about this news in their December press release:

“This new collaboration, known as the Medical Assistant Practice Improvement Collaborative (MA-PIC), will build on the work started by the Mountain Plains PIC by developing, delivering, disseminating, and evaluating training and materials for Medical Assisting students and practitioners on how to conduct alcohol screening and brief intervention (SBI). These activities will teach Medical Assistants to assist their overseeing providers in identifying patients’ risky drinking behaviors and provide health education to change those behaviors, especially among women of childbearing age to prevent AEPs and FASDs.”

The Importance of Medical Assistants

According to the AAMA, screening and intervention for patients drinking alcohol at unhealthy levels is more effective when Medical Assistants are a part of the healthcare team. Consider the skills and knowledge Medical Assistants have when it comes to providing patient education and prevention techniques. The AAMA lists the following as reasons why Medical Assistants could play a key role in screening for unhealthy alcohol use:

  • Their high level of patient interaction
  • Their vital role as liaison between patient and provider
  • Their familiarity with electronic medical records/patient health history
  • Their ability to connect with patients culturally and linguistically
  • Their scope of practice allows them to be trained as health coaches, provide counseling and education to reinforce physician advice, and follow up with patients

Since physicians usually do not have the time for alcohol screening or brief intervention, reallocating these tasks to Medical Assistants would save them time and ultimately benefit the patient. The AAMA said it best: “To maximize efficiency, Medical Assistants can conduct screening as part of the routine patient intake, thereby increasing the chance of identifying risky drinking in patient populations. Making the provider aware of a patient’s positive screening results facilitates follow-up and can improve integrated preventive care in healthcare teams.”

Without a doubt, Medical Assistants are key players on the healthcare team. They have the unique opportunity to advance the goals of this national health initiative and help put an end to dangerous alcohol consumption.

About the Medical Assistant Program at Provo College

Are you interested in Medical Assistant training? Provo offers an MA program that can be completed in as little as 10 months! An exemplary school, Provo College is known for giving power to students and associates by teaching cutting-edge, skills-based education, and leadership and personal effectiveness skills to have the career and life they desire. They are caring professionals who empower individuals to achieve personal excellence through student-centered, market-driven education.

At Provo, current MA students learn through informative lectures and practical training. Graduates of their MA program are eligible to take the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) certification exam offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In other words, students that have successfully completed the program will meet the educational requirements for the National Certification exam for Medical Assistants and may be eligible to sit for it. This exam is administered on campus and may be taken through the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT).

For more information, please contact a school representative at (801) 818-8901. Change your future with Provo!

Pregnant and in Scrubs: Work Tips For The Expecting Nurse

Pregnant and in Scrubs: Work Tips for the Expecting Nurse

Pregnant and in Scrubs: Work Tips For The Expecting Nurse

Nurses are notoriously hardworking people, and very few things can change that—even pregnancy. When they learn they’re pregnant, many nurses just trade their old scrubs for maternity scrubs and keep working, sometimes right up to when labor begins.

“During my pregnancy, I worked up until the very last minute. Literally,” writes nurse Cassie in her blog. “My water broke at 38 weeks, 6 days while in a patient’s room! The shift before my water broke, I was performing CPR in order to save a patient’s life! It was exhausting, both mentally and physically, but I feel like I had a healthier pregnancy because I continued to work. Of course, it’s always best to consult with your doctor before following any advice because each and every pregnancy is unique.”

The drive to work hard and treat patients is admirable, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to make the job less stressful, reduce risk to mother and baby, and address certain challenges before they arise. Here are just a few of the ways nurses can balance work and pregnancy.

  1. Keep Your OB In The Loop – Your OB should be the final word on any course of action regarding your pregnancy, so before laying out your work plan, make sure your doctor is on board. Let her know that you’re a nurse and communicate your job’s demands so that she has all the facts and figures in front of her. And if she recommends taking it easy, take it easy.
  2. Invest In Your Shoes – Two things are certain in pregnancy—you will gain some weight, and your feet will eventually start to hurt. So plan to invest in shoes that provide extra comfort while still conforming to your work and safety requirements. Compression socks are also a lifesaver.
  3. Tell Your Managers and Co-Workers Sooner Rather Than Later – Your pregnancy will impact your ability to do your job—for some, it will just be small things, like needing an extra bathroom break here and there. For others, the challenge will be more impactful—smells that drive you from a room, exhaustion, and morning sickness. So make sure your managers and your co-workers know as early as possible that changes are ahead so they can adjust accordingly.
  4. Consider An 8-Hour Shift – This isn’t a possibility at all hospitals or clinics, but it’s certainly worth looking into. If you find you’re struggling with the 12-hour shift, see if you can temporarily switch to an 8-hour to allow some extra rest. And if this isn’t an option, part-time may be something to consider.
  5. Look Into Light Duty Shifts – Again, this isn’t an option at all hospitals, but some do have the option of assigning light duty shifts to nurses. Light duty shifts typically involve more paperwork and managerial tasks rather than the more strenuous tasks of lifting patients and similar responsibilities.
  6. Fill That Nursing Bag – Before, you may have used your nursing bag for alcohol swabs and lip balm, but now, be sure to stock it with pregnancy essentials. Pack an anti-nausea pack, snacks to help keep you going when the cravings hit, and crackers to provide a little extra help when nausea strikes.
  7. Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself – Every pregnancy is different, and while some nurses seem to breeze through, others may struggle a little more. Remember that your pregnancy is unique to you, so don’t judge yourself too harshly if you feel you’re struggling more than others around you. And remember, as your body changes, your tolerance may as well. Sights, smells, and sounds that never bothered you before may turn your face green now. Just know your new limits, and don’t get discouraged. You’ve got this!

For many nurses, it can be frustrating to feel like you aren’t operating at 100% capacity for 9+ months, but the most important thing to remember is that you have help and no one is expecting you to be a superhero. Ask for help when you need it, don’t push yourself beyond your limits, and most of all—take a breath and enjoy the moment. You’re going to do great!

If you are interested in beginning your own career as a nurse or medical assistant, Provo College can help make that dream a reality. Contact us today for more information!