Darton State College Health Sciences Division | Physical Therapist Assistant - Frequently Asked Questions
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Physical Therapist Assistant
Frequently Asked Questions
- “When is the deadline for application?”
- All applications for the program are due by the deadline of June 1st of the year you are applying. Early submission of the application has no benefits, as applications are not processed until after the June 1st deadline.
- “How do I go about getting the required observational hours?”
- All applicants must complete a minimum of 40 hours of clinical observation by JUNE 1st in any type of physical therapy setting such as a hospital, skilled nursing facility, out-patient facility, etc. This requirement is designed to give the applicant a better understanding of the role of the physical therapist assistant. Applicants who currently work in a physical therapy setting may complete all hours at that facility, however, they must be directly under the PT or PTA observing patient care and not part of the secretarial staff.
This is not a service performed by the college; the applicant must independently seek out a physical therapy setting and speak with the appropriate staff/personnel regarding observational hours. There are many physical therapy providers to choose from, check out your local yellow pages. Call clinical sites in your area; explain that you are applying to a PTA Program and that you would like to observe either a PT or a PTA at their facility.
- “Can I work and still go thru the program?”
- It is possible for a student to work part-time while in the program, however it is not advised. Each semester, the student will carry a full load and a grade of 75 or higher must be achieved in order to pass each class. This along with the clinical work that is off-campus (possibly out of town) cannot be changed to accommodate your work schedule. Depending on the instructor – you may have to meet in the evenings rather than earlier in the day.
- “Should I take the Regent’s exam prior to starting the program?”
- It is highly recommended that the student complete the Regent’s prior to the initiation of the program, however this is not a requirement. The student cannot graduate from Darton or take the PTA Licensure Examination without successfully completing the requirements of the Board of Regent’s.
- “I still have classes to take before I can apply by the deadline of June 1st. Is it possible for me to take those classes during the Summer Semester and still apply by the deadline?”
- Yes, candidates may submit an application even though not all of the pre-requisite classes will be completed before the deadline. The applicant must indicate which of the pre-requisite classes are still in progress. Should the applicant be granted a seat in the class, it will be contingent on successfully passing each of those classes with a grade of “C” or higher.
- “What are the typical hours while in the program?”
- The PTA program classes are full-time and vary on days and times each semester. During the first 3 semesters of the technical program, expect to be in class Monday thru Thursday (some Fridays) 8+ hours per day. Typical hours during the first 3 semesters vary between 9:30AM and 8:30PM. The final semester will be off-campus clinical work, Monday thru Friday 8+ hours per day. Times may vary and are subject to change.
- “Can I be guaranteed all of my clinical rotation sites will be in my hometown?”
- Unfortunately, the answer is no. Each student will have 3 clinical rotations. The first clinical experience will occur during the Spring Semester in the form of six observation Fridays. The last two are two 7-week clinical rotations completed in the Fall Semester prior to graduation. Because of the limited availability of sites that are in town, we cannot guarantee one student over another that you will not have to travel out of town to complete the clinical rotations.
- “Are the costs incurred during clinical rotations covered in our tuition?”
- Again, the answer is no. Each student is obligated to cover the expenses out of pocket. However, the clinical coordinator will work with each student on an individual basis to try to place the student in an area that will require the least expense. (i.e. This may be in a town where the individual has relatives or friends and the cost would be minimal to the student)
- “How long is the program?”
- The PTA program is designed to be completed in 2 years; however, this varies based on the individual student and length of time to complete the prerequisite coursework. Once accepted into the PTA program, 4 semesters of the professional phase beginning Fall of every year and ending the following Fall Semester for graduation in December must be taken in sequence.
- “I already have a degree; do I have to complete all of the prerequisites?”
- Yes, all of the prerequisites must be completed. You may transfer credits from other institutions, but suitability for transfer will only be decided by the Registrar of Darton College. In order to determine if your previous college coursework is eligible for transfer, you must complete an application to become a student at Darton College (http://www.darton.edu/admin/admissions/) and have all of your previous coursework in the form of a transcript sent from the other institution to the Darton College Registrar. She will evaluate your transcripts and send you a letter indicating what is eligible and what is not.
- “Do I have to take Anatomy & Physiology I & II or may I substitute those 2 courses with the one course offered from Darton College (Anatomy & Physiology for the Healthcare Professional)?”
- Darton College does offer an acceptable substitution for the anatomy series, however, please note that we recommend the series over the one course if you ever plan to continue your education after Darton College. The course is acceptable for the PTA Program, but it will not transfer out of Darton College to count toward any future degree at a 4-year institution.
- “I want to eventually become a PT, but am I right in using the PTA program as a stepping-stone to achieving this goal.”
- No, the PTA program is NOT a stepping-stone to PT school and seats in the Darton College PTA program are not used as such. Students wishing to become a Physical Therapist must first complete a 4-yr. B.S. degree and then apply for admission to a Doctoral-level Physical Therapy Program. Obtaining an Associate Degree in PTA first is neither necessary nor common.
In order to become a Physical Therapist, a student must complete a graduate level program in Physical Therapy. In Georgia, there are 6 institutions that offer a graduate degree in physical therapy.
Acceptance into any professional program is on a selective/competitive basis. In order to apply for admission to those programs, you must first obtain a Baccalaureate Degree (4-year degree). Additionally, that B.S. degree must include all of the pre-requisite (pre-PT) courses required by the respective programs. For a more complete description of the pre-requisite requirements and application/selection process utilized by those programs, we encourage you to review the website of each PT Program in Georgia and contact those faculty advisors/instructors with questions.
Please be aware that the PTA Program at Darton College and the PT Programs in Georgia are in no way linked or affiliated. There is no “shortcut” toward achieving a degree in Physical Therapy provided by first becoming a PT Assistant. Additionally, please be aware that graduates of the Darton PTA Program are not given preference in the selection process for any PT Program.
- “What can students do to enhance chances of admission to a physical therapy program?”
- To be competitive, candidates should have a high overall grade point average (GPA) and a high GPA in prerequisite course work. An applicant’s volunteer experience in physical therapy, and excellent writing and interpersonal skills are look upon favorably. The education program is a full-time commitment.
- “How do Darton PTA program graduates do on the national licensing exam?”
- Darton College has a 100% pass-rate for the 3-year average listed on the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy and the tradition continues. https://www.fsbpt.org/download/PR_Ultimate_ByProg_PTA_2010_10.pdf
- “Where can I learn more about physical therapy?”
- The American Physical Therapy Association. www.apta.org