Penn College Adds Physical Therapist Assistant Degree

Published 02.28.2017

Nursing & Health Sciences
Physical Therapist Assistant

Pennsylvania College of Technology welcomed the first class of students into its new Physical Therapist Assistant Program this spring, following a semester of prerequisite coursework.

The two-year degree program culminates in an Associate of Applied Science degree; students wishing to continue their studies to the bachelor’s level may continue in the applied health studies major.

Penn College physical therapist assistant student Kathleen L. Carey, of Montoursville, assesses the deep tendon reflexes of classmate Angela M. Cipolla, of Williamsport, during a practice exercise.Physical therapist assistants are educated in physical therapy interventions and are prepared to work under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. They assist individuals of all ages whose lives have been impacted by injury or illness. The program at Penn College prepares students to perform select therapeutic interventions, assess patient response to these interventions, document components of treatment and make recommendations for modifications needed to ensure patient/client safety. Upon completion of the degree, students will be eligible for a certification examination that will enable them to begin employment as a PTA.

Hands-on learning – a hallmark of a Penn College education – takes place in a well-equipped, on-campus laboratory where students practice skills and interventions. In addition, students attend clinical education experiences at regional facilities that offer physical therapy services.

Employment opportunities for PTA program graduates are strong, with PTA listed as a “high-priority occupation” by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry and the Central Workforce Development Area. High-priority occupations are in demand by employers, have higher skill needs and are most likely to provide family-sustaining wages.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the nationwide demand for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants will increase in response to the health needs of an aging population, particularly the large baby-boom generation.

According to the Population Reference Bureau, Pennsylvania is considered one of the states that house the greatest number of individuals who are age 65 and older, ranking behind only California, Florida and New York. In offering the new major, Penn College becomes the only school in a 65-mile radius to provide a physical therapist assistant degree. The program was developed to provide an opportunity for students in the northcentral region of the state to have access to PTA education.

“Tremendous support from the physical therapy community exists for the development of this program,” said Nancy E. Wood, director of the physical therapist assistant program. “We are pleased to be able to afford this opportunity to our students, and we are confident that our graduates will help to meet the needs of the community and local physical therapy employers.”

“With a strong reputation for addressing economic needs and offering relevant and hands-on degrees that work, the introduction of a program to educate students for rewarding careers as physical therapist assistants aligns well with our continuous efforts to address the multifaceted and comprehensive needs of evidence-based health care,” added Edward A. Henninger, dean of health sciences at Penn College.

The School of Health Sciences offers numerous other degree programs, including dental hygiene, emergency medical services, exercise science, nursing, occupational therapy assistant, physician assistant, radiography, health information technology and surgical technology.

To learn more about the physical therapist assistant major at Penn College, visit in-person during Open House on April 1, beginning at 9 a.m.

For information about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

Physical therapist assistants must graduate from an academic program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education and, in most states, including Pennsylvania, they must pass a certification exam in order to be eligible to practice as a PTA.  Effective July 22, 2016, Pennsylvania College of Technology has been granted Candidate for Accreditation status by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (1111 N. Fairfax St., Alexandria, VA, 22314; phone: 703-706-3245; or email). Candidate for Accreditation is a pre-accreditation status of affiliation with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education that indicates that the program is progressing toward accreditation and may matriculate students in technical/professional courses. Candidate for Accreditation is not an accreditation status nor does it assure eventual accreditation.