As of 2014, there were 1,100 licensed physical therapist assistants practicing throughout Kansas according to the state’s Department of Labor. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that many of them practiced in rural areas. In fact, the nonmetropolitan area of Kansas was home to the second highest number of physical therapist assistants of any rural area in the country as of 2014.
The number of jobs for physical therapist assistants in Kansas is expected to grow to even higher levels, with the state’s Department of Labor anticipating a growth rate of 28% during the ten-year period from 2012 to 2022. This level of growth should create an average of 56 new physical therapist assistant jobs in Kansas each year.
The Kansas Department of Labor reported that slightly more than 40% of the state’s PTAs worked in hospitals—the largest employer of PTAs in Kansas. Nearly 20% worked in nursing homes, while other top employers included home health agencies and sports medicine clinics.
The University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City is recognized as one of the top employers of PTs and PTAs in the state. This nationally ranked hospital offers a wide range of physical therapy services, specializing in pain management, training for mobility and ambulation, and body mechanics and balance.
Steps to Obtaining a Physical Therapist Assistant License in Kansas
Launching a career as a physical therapist assistant in Kansas starts by qualifying for a license through the Kansas Board of Healing Arts.
Follow the step-by-step instructions in this simple guide to learn how to become a physical therapist in Kansas:
Step 1. Earn Your Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Degree
Your first step to becoming a physical therapist assistant in Kansas is to enroll in a school that offers a two-year associate’s degree program in physical therapist assisting. To meet state licensing requirements, you must select from schools that offer associate’s degree programs that have been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) and approved by the Kansas Board of Healing Arts.
You will find CAPTE-accredited schools located in these cities
- Kansas City
Degree options that are available in Kansas include:
- Physical Therapist Assistant Associate of Applied Science (AAS)
- Physical Therapist Assistant Associate of Science (AS)
You may be expected to observe at least 24 hours of physical therapy clinical practice under the supervision of a licensed PT or PTA before being considered for admission.
Your education will be comprised of both conventional coursework and clinical work. While each school has different offerings, all PTA programs cover certain common courses related to:
- Medical Terminology
- Functional Musculoskeletal Anatomy
- Neuromuscular Rehabilitation
- Pathophysiology for Rehabilitation
- Clinical Kinesiology
- Orthopedic Rehabilitation
Your two-year associate’s degree program will involve 9-16 credit hours of full-time clinical work, which will take place in a hospital, outpatient center, or nursing home. Facilities in Kansas that support clinical training for physical therapist assistants include:
- The University of Kansas Medical Center – Kansas City
- Saint Luke’s South Hospital – Overland Park
- Saint Luke’s Cushing Hospital – Leavenworth
- Labette Health’s Center of Rehabilitation Excellence – Parsons
- Cedar Lake Village’s Hoeger House – Olathe
Step 2. Submit Your Application for Physical Therapist Assistant Licensure by Examination
Although you will need to pass the national PTA exam before being qualified for a PTA license, you will begin the process before the exam by submitting an application for licensure by examination to the Kansas Board of Healing Arts.
You have the option of access a web-based application or downloading a paper application. You will submit your completed application along with an $80 licensing fee by check or money order made payable to the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts. Use the authorization form if paying by credit or debit card.
You will have to sign your application in the presence of a notary. The Board requires that you provide the following items along with your application:
- Photograph of your head and shoulders (2” x 3” taken in the previous 90 days)
- Notarized and signed release form
- A current school transcript
You can fax completed forms to (785) 368-7102 or mail all documents along with payment to this address:
Kansas State Board of Healing Arts
800 SW Jackson
Lower Level-Suite A
Topeka, KS 66612
If you have obtained your physical therapist associate’s degree but haven’t taken the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs, you can apply for a temporary permit to practice. You will do so using the same application process and specifying that you are seeking a temporary permit. This will require an additional $25 fee. Your temporary permit will be good for 90 days from the date your application is approved.
You can expect the licensing process to take 4 to 8 weeks.
Step 3. Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs
Your final step to obtaining a PTA license in Kansas is to pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs offered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). You will register for the exam online directly through the FSBPT and pay a $400 fee by debit or credit card.
The FSBPT provides a candidate handbook that will help you prepare for the exam. Once you have reviewed the information, you can take an online practice exam. The content for this computerized exam includes:
- Equipment & Devices; Therapeutic Modalities (14.7%)
- Interventions (30.7%)
- Safety & Protection; Professional Responsibilities; Research (6%)
- Physical Therapy Data Collection (20.7%)
- Diseases/Conditions that Impact Effective Treatment (28%)
After registering, you will be instructed to schedule to take the exam through Prometric and pay a $70 exam fee. Prometric, the third-party exam service that proctors the NPTE-PTA, has testing sites located in Hays, Wichita and Topeka.
Additional sites located near Kansas include:
- Kearney, NE
- Lincoln, NE
- Omaha, NE
You will need to score at least 600 to pass the NPTE-PTA exam.
Step 4. Begin Your Career as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Kansas
Once licensed through the Kansas Board of Healing Arts, you will be able to start your career as a physical therapist assistant. You may find PTA jobs available in all manner of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, sports medicine clinics, and rehabilitation centers.
These providers listed multiple job openings for PTAs in October 2015 (shown here only as illustrative examples):
- Therapy Management Corporation
- RehabCare Group, Inc.
- Kindred Healthcare, Inc.
- Key Rehabilitation, Inc.
- Life Care Centers of America
- Reliant Rehabilitation
- Select Medical – SMC
- Encompass Home Health
- HealthSouth Corporation
- Genesis HealthCare
Yet another option is to work in the independent practice of a licensed physical therapist.
Step 5. Renew Your Physical Therapist Assistant License Each Year
Your physical therapist assistant license will expire on December 31 of each year with one exception. If you obtained your initial license between October 1 and December 31, it will expire the following year.
You have until December 31 to register without incurring any late fees. You can still register in January, although late fees may be assessed. If you fail to register by the end of January, your license will become inactive.
During every odd-numbered year that you renew, you will need to provide evidence that you completed at lest 20 contact hours of continuing education. If you had extenuating circumstances, you can request a six-month extension.
If you have been licensed for more than one year, but less than two years at the time that your continuing education credits are due, you are required to provide proof of at least 10 hours of continuing ed.
The Board allows the following types of activities to count as continuing education as described in section 100-29-9 of the PTA regulations:
- In-service training
- College or university courses
- Administrative training
- Professional publications
The Kansas Physical Therapy Association is a good source through which you can locate pre-approved continuing education programs and also provides a system for you to track your hours.