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How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in Montana

The demand for physical therapist assistants has been increasing in Montana as the state’s population ages, and a far greater number of people need therapeutic and rehabilitative services. With just 160 physical therapist assistants licensed to practice in Montana as of 2014, the number of PTAs in the state is expected to increase dramatically in the coming years to keep up with the growing demand for their services.

The Montana Department of Labor & Industry predicts a growth rate of 27.3% in the number of jobs for physical therapist assistants in the state between 2014 and 2024. This should result in an average of 10 physical therapist assistant jobs being created in Montana each year.

Employment opportunities for physical therapist assistants in Montana include hospitals, home healthcare agencies, outpatient facilities, and nursing homes. One of Montana’s newest high-tech rehab facilities is the Montana Rehabilitation Hospital in Billings, which broke ground in 2012. This 22-bed hospital provides intensive rehab services to patients recovering from head and spinal cord injuries, strokes, and other functional maladies.

Steps to Obtaining a Physical Therapist Assistant License in Montana

To start your career as a physical therapist assistant in Montana, you will need to qualify for a license through the Montana Board of Physical Therapy Examiners.

Follow the step-by-step instructions in this simple guide to learn how to become a physical therapist assistant in Montana:

Earn your Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Degree
Submit your Application for Licensure by Examination and Pass the Jurisprudence Exam
Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs
Start you Career as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Montana
Renew your Physical Therapist Assistant License Each Year

 


 

Step 1. Earn your Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Degree

Your first step to becoming a licensed PTA in Montana is to enroll in a school that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) and approved by the Montana Board of Physical Therapy Examiners. CAPTE-accredited, Board-approved programs can be found here.

Two schools in Montana offer two-year associate’s degrees in physical therapist assisting. One is located in Kalispell, while the other is in Great Falls. Both schools offer an Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant (AAS).

In both cases, you will spend your first year taking prerequisite courses and then apply to the PTA component of the program. You need 30 or 40 clinical observation hours with a licensed PT or PTA to be able to move on to the PTA component of the associate’s degree program.

You may be required to submit to a background check and drug screening, document your immunizations, prove that you have CPR certification, and provide two professional references.

Your PTA-specific coursework will include these didactic courses:

  • Physical Therapist Assisting
  • Anatomy and Physiology for the PTA
  • Pathophysiology for the Physical Therapist Assistant
  • Therapeutic Exercise for the PTA
  • Neurorehabilitation for the PTA
  • Introduction to Orthopedics

You will also spend 11-12 credit hours working with patients in a variety of clinical settings. This will help you to develop your skills and confidence in working with patients and performing your duties. Possible locations for clinical training include:

  • Patrick Rehabilitation Center – Missoula
  • The Rehabilitation Institute of Montana – Missoula
  • Montana Rehabilitation Hospital – Billings
  • Vincent’s New Hope Rehabilitation Center – Billings
  • VA Montana Healthcare System – Fort Harrison
  • Community Medical Center’s Rehabilitation Institute of Montana – Missoula

 


 

Step 2. Submit your Application for Licensure by Examination and Pass the Jurisprudence Exam

Now that you have earned your associate’s degree, you must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs to practice as a physical therapist assistant in Montana. You must be at least 18 years old and be of good moral character to apply. Your application to take the exam will also serve as your application for PTA licensure.

You have a choice of applying online or submitting a paper Licensure Application Form by main. You must include a $100 check or money order made out to the Montana Board of Physical Therapy Examiners along with your application. You must affix a recent photograph to your application that has been taken within the past 6 months. The Board prefers a passport sized photograph.

You must also provide a copy of your diploma or official transcripts sent directly by your school to the Montana Board of Physical Therapy Examiners. The application has a form to request these documents from your school. If you have attended more than one school, you must have each school fill out this form. You are allowed to photocopy it for this process.

You must also successfully complete the jurisprudence exam contained in your application packet. You must score at least 90% to pass this 25-question exam. You should prepare for this exam by reviewing Montana’s statutes and rules on the PT profession. These are contained in Chapters 1 and 11 of Title 37 of the Montana Code Annotated. If you do not pass the exam, you must keep trying until you do. You must pay $25.00 each time you retake the exam.

After successfully completing the exam, compiling all documents and having your school mail your official transcripts to the Board; send your application along with all supporting documents to this address:

Board of Physical Therapy Examiners
301 South Park, 4th Floor
P.O. Box 200513
Helena, MT 59620-0513

The Board takes up to 30 days to process an application once it has been received.

You have the option of applying for a temporary license to practice while waiting to take the NPTE once your application has been approved. You must pay a fee of $100 made payable to the Montana Board of Physical Therapy Examiners. You must take the NPTE-PTA within 120 days of this temporary license being issued.

 


 

Step 3. Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs

After the Montana Board of Physical Therapy Examiners approves your application, the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) will send you an authorization to test letter. You must schedule an appointment to take the exam within 60 days or you will have to reapply for your license.

You will schedule your exam online at the FSBPT website and pay the $400 fee by credit or debit card. Your next step is to select an exam location and time through Prometric, the third-party testing agency that proctors the exam. This will require you to pay a $70 fee. You have the option of taking your test at a Prometric location in Billings or Helena.

Since the NPTE-PTA is a four-hour test with 200 questions, you should be well prepared. You can study the candidate handbook and then take an online computerized practice exam to do so. You will need to be familiar with these topics:

  • Safety & Protection; Professional Responsibilities; Research (6%)
  • Diseases/Conditions that Impact Effective Treatment (28%)
  • Equipment & Devices; Therapeutic Modalities (14.7%)
  • Physical Therapy Data Collection (20.7%)
  • Interventions (30.7%)

You need to obtain a scaled score of at least 600 to pass this exam.

 


 

Step 4. Start your Career as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Montana

Once you have passed the NPTE-PTA, you can start your career as a licensed physical therapist assistant in Montana. With more than 60 hospitals and a large number of outpatient clinics and nursing homes, Montana offers a number of avenues for employment.

As an example of the kinds of jobs available to PTAs in Montana, a list of facilities that were hiring physical therapist assistants during November 2015 is shown below (Shown for illustrative purposes only and does not provide a guarantee that these companies are currently hiring):

  • Aureus Medical Group – Missoula
  • Bridger Orthopedic and Sports Medicine/Freestone Rehabilitation – Bozeman
  • Innovative Rehabilitation – Missoula
  • MTX Therapy Services – Plains
  • Genesis Rehabilitation Services – Deer Lodge
  • Advanced Care Hospital of Montana – Billings
  • Infinity MedStaff – Plains
  • Peter’s Hospital – Helena
  • SYNERTX Rehabilitation – Bozeman

If you prefer, you can also seek employment in the independent practice of a physical therapist licensed to work in Montana.

You will need to display your original license or an official duplicate and a renewal certificate (if applicable) in a conspicuous place in the primary office where you practice.

 


 

Step 5. Renew your Physical Therapist Assistant License Each Year

You must renew your license on March 31 each year. Each renewal requires you to pay a $60 fee. Late renewals are accepted until May 16, but you will have to pay an additional $60.

You can renew online or with a hard copy Renewal Application Form. You can start the renewal process as early as February 1.

If you are renewing with a paper form, mail it to this address:

Board of Physical Therapy Examiners
301 South Park, 4th Floor
P.O. Box 200513
Helena, MT 59620-0513

Unless this is your first renewal, you will have to complete 30 hours of continuing education in the two-year period prior to the March 31 renewal date on odd-numbered years. The Board will randomly audit physical therapist assistants who are renewing their licenses to ensure that they have met this requirement.

Places to obtain continuing education credit include:

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