Background on Mississippi Physical Therapist Assistants
Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) are a valuable part of the physical therapy team, who provide hands-on care to patients. They work directly under the supervision and direction of physical therapists (PTs), who assess, diagnose and prescribe physical therapy treatment.
Physical therapy assistance is becoming more and more popular, with a 30 percent increase in employment predicted by the year 2026. With such a positive career outlook and only two years of post-secondary school required, this is a perfect career for those looking to enter the healthcare field quickly.
Some of the tasks completed by PTAs include ultrasound treatment, electrotherapy and exercise therapy. They also educate patients on healthy lifestyles and sometimes complete and organize medical paperwork.
The Road to a PTA License
In every state, physical therapist assistants need to have a high school diploma or GED before they enroll in a required associate’s degree physical therapy assistance program. College education for PTAs generally lasts two years. After finishing an AAS degree, PTAs should take the national physical therapy exam (NPTE). Upon successful completion of the NPTE and determination of ‘good moral character,’ Mississippi physical therapist assistants may apply for licensure through the Mississippi Board of Physical Therapy (MBPT).
Accredited Physical Therapist Assistant Programs in Mississippi
There are plenty of options for quality, accredited physical therapist assistance programs in Mississippi. A couple popular schools within the state include:
- Holmes Community College. At this school’s Grenada location, a physical therapy assistant technology program resulting in an AAS degree. The program lasts about five semesters and prepares students for entry-level PTA work.
- Meridian Community College. Applicants to this Meridian-based school must first take prerequisite classes in science and math, earning a grade point average of at least a ‘C.’ Other requirements for acceptance include a personal autobiography and two letters of reference. Meridian’s graduation rate for PTAs is 85.7 percent, and 100 percent of graduates have passed the national NPTE exam.
Practicing in Nearby States
Mississippi is a participant in the Physical Therapy Compact agreement, meaning that Mississippi PTAs are eligible to apply for privilege to practice in other Compact-participating states. The MBPT requires applicants for the Compact to complete a Mississippi jurisprudence (physical therapy law) exam. Nearby states where Mississippi PTAs may apply to practice are Tennessee and Missouri, while Arizona and Louisiana are currently in the process of joining the Compact.
What to Expect from a PTA Career
The Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) reported 940 PTAs working in Mississippi in 2016, with a 16 percent increase in their employment predicted by 2026. On average, 140 PTA jobs open in Mississippi per year, and their median reported income was $23.84 per hour in 2017. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this income rate is just slightly higher than the national median PTA income rate of $22.56 per hour that same year.
Physical Therapist Assistants by Location in Mississippi
The Northeast Mississippi nonmetropolitan and Jackson areas employed the highest number of PTAs within Mississippi in 2017, according to the BLS. By far, the highest rate of physical therapist assistant employment per 1,000 jobs was also located within the Northeast Mississippi nonmetropolitan area that year. However, the highest median salaries for PTAs were earned in the southwest and southeast Mississippi nonmetropolitan areas, at rates ranging from $25 to $27 per hour.
It only takes about two years of school to become a physical therapist assistant, but PTAs can gain experience throughout their careers to advance and receive higher pay rates. Often, physical therapist assistants move on to teaching, research and administrative positions. The opportunity to care for patients and improve their lives is tremendous within this career field, and fulfilling career potential is promising.