Nearly 1,300 licensed physical therapist assistants were employed in Kentucky as of 2014, most of which worked in hospitals, outpatient clinics and physical therapy practices in the Bowling Green area. That year, the US Department of Labor recognized Bowling Green as having the sixth highest concentration of physical therapist assistant jobs of any metro area in the country.
Kentucky Labor Market Information (LMI) indicates that the number of physical therapist assistants in the state will increase dramatically between 2012 and 2022 to keep pace with the growing demand for physical therapy interventions. The LMI anticipates a 37% increase in the number of jobs for PTAs during this ten-year period, which is expected to result in an average of 94 new physical therapist assistant positions becoming available each year in the state.
Kentucky’s licensed physical therapist assistants enjoy a number of avenues for employment, ranging from hospitals to rehabilitation centers to sports medicine clinics. For example, Baptist Health Lexington, one of Kentucky’s top employers of PTs and PTAs, offers a range of inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services, specializing in orthopedics and neuro rehab.
Steps to Obtaining a Physical Therapist Assistant License in Kentucky
Your career as a physical therapist assistant in Kentucky starts by qualifying for a license through the Kentucky Board of Physical Therapy.
Follow the step-by-step instructions in this simple guide to learn how to become a physical therapist in Kentucky:
Step 1. Earn your Physical Therapist Assistant Degree
Your first step to becoming a physical therapist assistant in Kentucky is to enroll in a school that offers a two-year Physical Therapist Assistant Associate of Applied Science degree (AAS). You will need to choose from schools that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) and approved by the Kentucky Board of Physical Therapy.
You can find CAPTE-accredited physical therapist assistant schools located in:
Your program will involve a combination of classroom-based coursework and clinical rotations for hands on training at local facilities. Your coursework will include:
- Human Anatomy & Physiology
- Neurological Rehabilitation in Physical Therapy
- Medical & Surgical Conditions in Physical Therapy
- Modalities & Procedures in Physical Therapy
- Functional Anatomy & Kinesiology
Your two-year associate’s program will involve 8 credit hours of full-time clinical work or approximately 520 contact hours. You will be exposed to a variety of clinical settings such as outpatient centers, hospitals, and nursing homes. You may be required to complete some of your clinical practicum at a clinic in one of Ketucky’s high-needs rural areas.
Facilities in Kentucky that support clinical training for physical therapist assistants include:
- Baptist Regional Medical Center – Physical Rehab Unit – Corbin
- Cardinal Hill Rehab Hospital – Lexington
- Frazier Rehab Institute – Louisville
- American Rehabilitation Group – Lexington
- Advanced Orthopaedic Physical Therapy – Louisville
Once you have completed the academic and clinical portions of your education, you will need to request that your school’s Program Director send a letter to the Kentucky Board of Physical Therapy to verify that you have fulfilled all of the program’s requirements.
Step 2. Submit your Application for Physical Therapist Assistant Licensure by Examination
Your next step is to submit an Application for Credentialing to the Kentucky Board of Physical Therapy, which will serve as both your application for licensure and your application for approval to sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs.
You will need to provide a billfold-sized or a passport photo of your head and shoulders (at least 1” x 2” and can be no larger than 2” x 3”).
Submit your application, the $200 processing fee (cashier’s check or certified check made out to the Kentucky Board of Physical Therapy), and photo to this address:
KY Board of Physical Therapy
312 Whittington Parkway, Suite 102
Louisville, KY 40222
Step 3. Pass the Kentucky Jurisprudence and National Exams
Once the Board has received your application and fee, you will be notified that you are eligible to take the Kentucky Jurisprudence Exam online.
The exam consists for 20 questions in four parts. You may want to download the Practice Act for the PT profession in Kentucky before taking the exam. The exam typically takes at least half an hour to complete.
Once you have passed this Kentucky Jurisprudence Exam, you will be able to download an authorization to test letter. This will allow you to register online for the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs that is offered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). You will have to pay the $400 fee by credit or debit card when you register.
After registering, you will be instructed to schedule to take the NPTE-PTA through Prometric and pay a $70 fee. Prometric NPTE-PTA test sites are located in:
- Louisville (two sites)
The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) provides a candidate handbook that will help you prepare for the exam. After you have reviewed the information, you can take an online practice exam. The content for this computerized exam includes:
- Safety & Protection; Professional Responsibilities; Research (6%)
- Physical Therapy Data Collection (20.7%)
- Diseases/Conditions that Impact Effective Treatment (28%)
- Interventions (30.7%)
- Equipment & Devices; Therapeutic Modalities (14.7%)
To pass this exam, you will need to obtain a score of 600.
If you are taking the exam for the first time, you have the option of applying to work on a temporary basis until you get your test results back. To do so, you will have to identify a physical therapist that is willing to supervise you during this temporary licensing period, and document the supervision with a Supervisory Agreement Form.
If approved, the Board will issue a one-time temporary permit, so you can practice temporarily. This permit will be good for either six months or until you get the results of your NPTE-PTA exam.
Step 4. Begin your Career as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Kentucky
Once you have passed the exam and obtained your license from the Kentucky Board of Physical Therapy, you can start your career as a physical therapist assistant in the Commonwealth. Kentucky offers a number of options for employment in its many rehabilitation facilities, hospitals, and outpatient clinics.
As of October 2015, the following facilities were looking to hire physical therapist assistants (shown for illustrative purposes only and not an indicator of where jobs may currently be available):
- Functional Pathways – Paris
- Aureus medical Group – Mount Olivet
- Frazier Rehab Institute – Louisville
- Select Specialty Hospital – Lexington
- Signature HealthCARE LLC – Danville
- J. Samson Community Hospital – Glasgow
- Caretenders Home Health – Frankfort
- Kentucky Orthopedic Rehab Team – Bardstown
- Catholic Health Initiatives – Lexington
- Functional Pathways – Covington
- Centra healthcare Solutions – Paris
- Aegis Therapies – Lexington
You also have the option of partnering with a licensed physical therapist to work in their independent practice.
Step 5. Renew your Physical Therapist Assistant License Every Two Years
Your physical therapist assistant license will expire on March 31 of every uneven year. You will have to pay $150 to renew your license by March 31, 2017. The Board encourages you to renew online, but if you prefer, you can download a renewal form and mail it in.
You must meet several requirements during each renewal cycle in order to renew your license:
- Complete 20 hours of Continued Competency Credits
- Email or fax proof that you took an approved course on HIV/AIDS
- Complete the online open book Jurisprudence Exam
- This counts for 2 credits towards your continuing education credits
If you are on active military duty, you do not have to pay the renewal fee or meet the continuing education requirements.
You must earn your continued competency credits between April 1 and March 31 of each two-year renewal period. The Board provides a form for you to track your credits earned.
The Kentucky Physical Therapy Association (KPTA) reviews and approves continued competency courses. You should review Kentucky’s statutes to see if any of your continuing education activities require further review through the KPTA’s Professional Continued Competency Committee. If so, you should submit a course attendee form along with the required documentation to the KPTA.
You can apply for an extension if you prove that you have suffered a hardship. If you need to get an extension for any other reason, you must pay $250 to the Kentucky Board of Physical Therapy and submit an Exemption of Extension for Completion of Continued Competency Form.