Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do I need to have all of the prerequisites completed in order to apply for the program?
    No.  As long as you complete the prerequisites prior to beginning the program, you can apply in the fall; however, applicants who have completed all prerequisites prior to applying will have a competitive advantage. 
  • How do I apply for the program?

    Applications will be submitted online, and will be posted on the PTA web page. In the meantime, you can find application information on the  PTA Application Procedure webpage.

  • I see that there are observation experiences required for admission to the program. How do I find out where I can complete the experiences?
    A minimum of thirty (30) hours of observation are required, with a minimum of 15 hours each in two different settings (outpatient, hospital inpatient, home health, rehab center, or long term care). You can find information about hospitals, nursing homes and outpatient clinics online or in the yellow pages.
  • How long is the program?
    After completion of the prerequisite courses, the technical portion of the program is 12 months long and completed in three consecutive semesters. The program begins each January.
  • What are the differences between a physical therapist assistant and a physical therapist related to educational preparation, regulation and practice?

    Educational Preparation: A physical therapist assistant's education typically results in a two year Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science degree. UAA will award the Associate of Science to graduates of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program. Physical therapy entry-level education programs award either a Master's of Science or a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, depending on the program and its requirements.

    Regulation and Practice: A physical therapist is required to have a license to practice in any state. Most states require a license, registration or certification in order for an individual to practice as a physical therapist assistant. The physical therapy scope of practice for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants is described in each state's laws, however, the major responsibilities that are identified (in licensure regulations and professional and accreditation literature) as belonging to the physical therapist are the following:

    • Initial evaluation of the patient
    • Establishment of a plan of care
    • Modification of the treatment plan
  • Why should I consider becoming a physical therapist assistant rather than a physical therapist?

    There are several advantages to becoming a physical therapist assistant:

    It is possible to enroll in the program, take the required courses, graduate in two years, become licensed or certified and begin working in the field. It now takes between 5 and 7 years of education to become a practicing physical therapist, due to both graduate and undergraduate educational requirements.

    Because the physical therapist assistant works under the supervision of a physical therapist, the responsibilities and roles of the physical therapist assistant and physical therapist promote a work environment of support and guidance. Although physical therapist assistants have many opportunities for advancement and independence, the collegial relationship of the physical therapist and the physical therapist assistant is fundamental in patient care.

  • What are some of the Career Opportunities for Physical Therapist Assistants?

    Certified/licensed physical therapist assistants work in settings that include hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, rehabilitation centers, home care, school systems and outpatient physical therapy clinics. As the population ages, the need for physical therapy services are expected to increase. The United States Department Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019 – 2029 projected growth rate for physical therapist assistants is 29% (much faster than average).

  • Is the UAA PTA Program accredited?

    The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at University of Alaska Anchorage is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, VA, 22305; telephone: 703-706-3245; email: accreditation@apta.org website: http://www.capteonline.org

    Graduation from a physical therapist assistant education program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), is necessary for eligibility to sit for the licensure examination, which is required in all states.

    If you need to contact the program/institution directly, please call Jodi Pfeiffer, BS, PTA Program Director at 907-786-4769 or email: uaa_pta@alaska.edu.

  • How many students will be admitted to the PTA program?
    Twelve students will be admitted to the PTA program each Spring Semester.
  • What is licensure?
    All states require licensure, certification or registration of the physical therapist assistant. Graduates of accredited Physical Therapist Assistant educational programs are eligible to sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for Physical Therapist Assistants in order to obtain licensure in the State of Alaska. Alaska state law requires licensure of physical therapist assistants. Physical therapist assistants are identified by the Statutes and Regulations for Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy (Section 208.84.190 "Definitions") as individuals who assist in the practice of physical therapy. These statutes and regulations delineate the roles and responsibilities of the physical therapist assistant. Performing the duties of a physical therapist assistant as an employee of an institution or facility without being certified is unlawful. It may also result in denial of coverage of physical therapy services by third party payers.
  • What if I want to be a PT after becoming a PTA or without becoming a PTA first?

    Students may complete the DPT program prerequisite coursework and a Bachelor's degree with or without becoming a PTA. A practicing physical therapist assistant has the opportunity to pursue physical therapy education after or while practicing as a PTA.

  • Can you tell me about the facilities and laboratories used in the PTA program?
    The program facilities, including classrooms and laboratories, are well-equipped with teaching models and state-of-the-art treatment equipment. The PTA Program is located in the Professional Studies Building. The space for the program includes faculty offices, classrooms, and a dedicated PTA laboratory.
  • What is Clinical Education? Will I have to travel? Will I get to choose the clinical site? What are the clinical hours?
     

    All students in the PTA program complete 15 weeks of full-time clinical education. They are assigned to clinical sites by the Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education (ACCE) who works with the student to find the most appropriate clinical placement. Because of the number of available sites and the different requirements for experience, it cannot be guaranteed that a student will be placed at a facility of their choosing. Travel may be required, and students are responsible for costs incurred for travel and housing related to clinical placement. Clinical Instructors at each clinical site will provide hands-on instruction with patients. Clinical schedules are typically 8 a.m. to 5p.m. on Monday through Friday; however, these hours can vary and students are expected to follow the schedule established by the clinical site.

  • Will the classes be offered online?
     

    Most PTA classes are held on the Anchorage campus, with the exception of two online courses (PTA A102 Physical Therapy in Health Care and PTA A292 Seminar) and clinical rotations, which take place at the facilities to which the student has been assigned.

  • Where will I complete the clinical component of the PTA education curriculum?
     

    The PTA program has contracts with clinical facilities throughout the state. Most students are assigned to clinical/hospitals in the Anchorage Bowl/Mat-Su Valley; however availability of appropriate clinical placements may require travel to another city. If a student would like to go to a clinic outside of this geographical region, his/her ability to do so will be considered on an individual basis.  All travel and other expenses related to clinical experiences are the responsibility of the student.