How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in Kansas
Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) are a vital part of a patient’s care team. While working under the guidance of a physical therapist (PT), they perform a wide range of duties. PTAs document information, change therapy plans as needed, educate patients and help them on their road to recovery from injury or illness. The methods of treatment that are used by PTAs include balance training, stretching and massage. PTAs are licensed to work on patients of all ages, although some might choose to specialize in a particular age group. Physical therapy assistants are at risk for developing back injuries due to the physical nature of the job.
Getting Your PTA License in Kansas
Starting your career as a PTA in Kansas means the Kansas Board of Healing Arts must issue a license to you. To get licensed, you first have to complete a two-year associate’s degree program. You will have to observe a minimum of 24 hours of physical therapy clinical practice before you can even apply to any college programs. This might seem like somewhat of a burden, but it helps to ensure that you know exactly what the job entails and that you are confident it is the right choice for you. PTA programs involve a mix of classroom and clinical work.
After you have successfully completed an accredited PTA program, there is one more hurdle you have to clear: the National Physical Therapy Examination for PTAs. This 200-question covers five areas of physical therapy treatment that PTAs need to be knowledgeable about. They are:
- Equipment and devices
- Safety and protection
- Diseases/conditions that impact treatment
- Physical therapy data collection
Once you have received your license, you will need to renew it every year as it expires on December 31st. On odd-numbered years, you will need to show the licensing board that you completed a minimum of 20 contact hours of continuing education during the preceding year. This education can include college courses, lectures, workshops and seminars.
Colleges Offering PTA Programs in Kansas
Admittance to PTA programs in Kansas is very competitive. It takes two years to complete all the courses and internships required for graduation. Two schools in Kansas that offer degrees in PTA are:
- Hutchinson Community College. The PTA program at HCC accepts students based on a points program. The top 40 applicants are selected for interviews based on GPA (up to 50 points) and letters of reference (up to 25 points). The interview is worth a possible 25 points, with the total coming to 100. The 30 students who have the highest scores will be admitted into the program.
- Washburn University. Applications are accepted between November 1st and February 1st for the PTA program. Acceptances are based on prior GPA, references and a letter of intent. Applicants are also expected to have worked or volunteered for a minimum of 40 hours in physical therapy or another medical area setting.
Career and Salary Expections
Salary and scheduling are two things that people pay attention to when deciding on a career path. Anyone who is considering becoming a PTA will be happy to hear that a position as a physical therapist assistant has great perks in both of those categories.
The average schedule for a PTA is Monday through Friday, with hours fluctuating depending on what kind of facility at which they find employment. Nursing homes and rehabilitation centers tend to have PTAs on staff during normal business hours, which can be great for people with school-aged children.
The average annual salary for a PTA in Kansas is $53,040, which in Kansas is a great livable wage. PTAs in Kansas also don’t need to worry about finding employment, as the need for assistants is expected to rise over the next few years. As of 2016, there were 430 employed physical therapist assistants in the state. That number is predicted to rise by 14 percent by 2026.
PTA Employment Outlook
The need for qualified PTAs is expected to rise both in Kansas and across the country in the next few years, which means that job stability is expected to continue regardless of where you want to practice. Because of this, many hospitals and nursing homes are offering perks such as extra paid time off and bonuses to attract and keep physical therapist assistants.
One of the biggest influences on pay can be the area where you are employed. The highest paying cities for PTAs to seek work in Kansas are Wichita, Kansas City and Shawnee. The lowest paying cities, on average, are Hays, Hillsboro and Tonganoxie.