Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant

Degree Awarded: 
Associate of Applied Science Degree

Associate in Applied Science (AAS) programs are designed to provide preparation for entry level employment and are not intended for transfer. Certain courses in AAS degree programs may be accepted by a four year college or university for transfer credit in an associated field of study.

  • To learn more about the faculty and staff of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program, click here.
  • To see Jefferson College of Health Sciences Catalog, with the Physical Therapist Assistant section beginning on page 137, click here.

To view the Physical Therapist Assistant Program “Online Information Session” click here.

Following viewing of the Online Information Session, a short quiz must be taken and submitted (click here). These two components are part of the PTA Program application process. For further information regarding the admission requirements, please scroll down.

Clinical Education for the Physical Therapist Assistant Program

Current Jefferson College Physical Therapist  Assistant students and Clinical Instructors can click here to access forms and other information.

General Information

The Physical Therapist Assistant program blends classroom, lab, and clinical components into a two-year, five-semester Associate of Applied Science degree. This program includes three clinical rotations, each with a distinct focus. Graduates are eligible to take the state board licensing examination for the Physical Therapist Assistant in any state that offers this examination. A total of 76 hours are required for graduation. All who enter the course must be able to execute physical functions that are routinely required of the PTA.

The physical therapist assistant is a trained, paraprofessional health provider who, under the direction of a physical therapist, carries out the patient's treatment program. The physical therapist assistant, who follows the plan developed by the supervising physical therapist, is a vital member of the patient's healthcare team.

Responsibilities of the physical therapist assistant include: instructing patients in exercises and activities of normal daily living; performing treatments; utilizing special equipment; assisting in performing patient examinations, evaluations, and complex treatment procedures; monitoring and reporting the patient's reactions.

Program Mission: 

Our students learn to work as a clinical generalist and work under the direct supervision of Physical Therapists. They provide direct care including implementing the treatment plan, treating patients with therapeutic exercises, massage, and physical agents such as heat, cold, and electricity. There are many opportunities for qualified PTAs and the rewards of seeing a patient progress are great. PTAs help patients regain or maintain their independence.

Program Goals: 
  • Will have an excellent chance of passing the state licensing examination on the first attempt.
  • Is a generalist and can practice in a wide variety of physical therapy environments.
  • Will meet the expectations of the employers.
  • Will be confident in their skills as an entry-level Physical Therapist Assistant.
Accreditations: 

The Physical Therapist Assistant program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, Phone: 703/684-3245, e-mail: accreditation@apta.org, website: http://www.capteonline.org.

History: 

In the late 1940s, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) House of Delegates anticipated growth in the physical therapy profession and examined the need for additional personnel to assist physical therapists. With the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, the need for this personnel was greatly increased. In 1967, the first two Physical Therapist Assistant programs were created. Today, the number of PTA programs outnumbers PT.

Career Outlook: 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2015 employment of physical therapist assistants is projected to grow 40 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for physical therapy services is expected to increase in response to the healthcare needs of an older population and individuals with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 report stated that the median annual earnings of physical therapist assistants in Virginia was $55,250. Mean hourly wage was $26.52. The lowest 10 percent earned $32,640, and the top 10 percent earned more than $76,940.  Also in 2014 the average annual salary for a PTA in Roanoke was $57,200.

Admission Requirements: 
  • GPA of 2.5 or higher.
  • Attendance at an onsite or online program information session is required for admission to the program.
    • The online program information session can be found here.
    • You will then need to complete a PTA Program Applicant Orientation Quiz, which can be found here.
  • A portfolio supporting the applicant’s admission to the program should be submitted to Admissions Counselor Kelly McDow via e-mail (klmcdow@jchs.edu), mail (recommend tracking number) or in person. 
  • The portfolio should document the applicant’s experience, achievements, and growth.  Any items that applicants consider to be representative of their efforts and achievements will be accepted, including personal statements. Common portfolio items may include but are not limited to: resume, healthcare exposure (identify profession; setting; paid, unpaid, or as a patient; number of hours), community service including estimated number of hours, leadership experience, examples of performance excellence, sample works, honors, awards, special projects, and letters of recommendation.
  • Following review of the above program admission requirements, selected applicants will be invited for an on-campus interview and essay to determine the final selection of members of the class.
Other Information: 
Our Graduates

Surveys from employers of our graduates report very favorably that our graduates are rated for job performance relative to graduates of similar programs. They include comments on what our graduates demonstrate: 
 

  • Ability to research problems
  • Teamwork
  • Flexibility
  • Ability to work well with staff and residents.
  • Good oral and written communication
  • Good interpersonal skills Similar results are shown regarding a graduate’s ability to meet entry-level job expectations and the employer’s overall satisfaction with the work-related performance of graduates.
Graduate Outcomes

As part of the accreditation standards of all PTA programs, each program is required to make outcome data from the previous three (3) years available to the public. Most states require that graduates pass a national licensure exam in order to be licensed to practice in that state. Jefferson College of Health Sciences results were as follows: 

  Graduation Rate Percentage of first-time licensure exam takers who passed the exam Ultimate licensure exam pass rate Percentage of graduates employed within 1 year
2015 90.9% 87% 100% 100%
2014 84.8% 87% 90% 100%
2013 88.6% 87% 100% 100%
CAPTE Accreditation