Even with 400 physical therapist assistants licensed to practice in Nevada as of 2015, their numbers are expected to increase significantly in the coming years to keep up with the growing demand for therapeutic and rehabilitative services as physical therapy gains even greater recognition for the role it can play in helping patients recover from all manner of diseases and trauma. In fact, the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation expects the number of PTA jobs in the state to increase by 28% during the ten-year period from 2012 and 2022. This should result in an average of 22 new jobs opening up for PTAs in the state each year during this ten-year projection period.
Several major physical rehab facilities in Las Vegas underwent major expansions in recent years, creating a number of new avenues for employment for licensed PTAs in the state. Touro University more than doubled the size of its facility in 2014, while Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center renovated and expanded its physical rehab facility from 30 to 42 beds in 2011. As in-patient hospital rehab facilities expand and more outpatient clinics specializing in physical therapy, orthopedics and sports medicine open to accommodate the growing demand for PT services, new opportunities for aspiring physical therapist assistants are being created every day.
Steps to Obtaining a Physical Therapist Assistant Certificate in Nevada
Your career as a physical therapist assistant in Nevada starts by qualifying for a certificate through the Nevada Physical Therapy Examiners’ Board.
Follow the step-by-step instructions in this simple guide to learn how to become a physical therapist assistant in Nevada:
Step 1. Complete a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Associate’s Degree Program
Your first step to becoming a licensed PTA in Nevada is to enroll in a school that has received accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) and that has been approved by the Nevada Physical Therapy Examiners’ Board.
You can choose from three accredited schools in Las Vegas that offer the following degrees:
- Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assistant (AS)
- Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant (AAS)
You may have to apply to a PTA program once you have completed your prerequisites. You may also be required to show proof of immunizations, CPR certification, and health insurance. In addition, you will have to undergo a drug screen, an official background check, and physical examination to meet the requirements of the clinics you will work in.
Your education will consist of didactic courses and clinical affiliations in different rehab facilities. Courses may vary somewhat depending on which school you attend, but typical coursework includes:
- Musculoskeletal Anatomy Review
- Principles of Kinesiology
- Fundamental Principles for the Physical Therapist Assistant
- Observation & Measurement Principles for the Physical Therapist Assistant
- Observation & Measurement Procedures
- Psychological-Social Considerations in Patient Care
- Orthotic and Prosthetic Considerations in Patient Care
In addition, the state of Nevada requires that you take four credits specific to the US and Nevada Constitutions.
You will spend about 6 credits in three different clinical rotations that will help to hone your skills. Potential locations for clinical training in Nevada include:
- Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center – Las Vegas
- Northern Nevada Medical Center – Reno
- Carson Nursing and Rehabilitation Center – Carson
- Summerlin Hospital Medical Center – Las Vegas
- HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Henderson – Henderson
- Silver Hills Health Care Center – Las Vegas
Step 2. Submit an Application for Licensure by Examination
Now that you have your PTA associate’s degree from an accredited school, you must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs to get your license to practice in Nevada. You can even apply if you are in your last semester of school if you can provide an official transcript.
Your first step in the application process is to arrange to be fingerprinted for the purpose of a criminal background check. To do this, you must email your full name and email address to email@example.com, and they will reply with instructions on how to go about getting your fingerprints taken. The fee for this is $38.25 plus a processing fee from the facility.
Your fingerprints will be submitted electronically for the background check. It will take about 2-4 weeks to get the results, so the Board encourages you to do this as soon as possible. The results will be good for six months.
Complete your Application for Licensure, which includes detailed information on a number of additional items you need to include when you apply. You must have your application notarized before sending it along with the following:
Letters of Reference – You will need to submit two letters of recommendation from PTs or a PT and a PTA. The individuals must not be relatives by blood or marriage and cannot be a professor at your school. You will also need to provide a letter from a personal reference who can attest to your moral character. This letter cannot be from a classmate, educator, professor, or anyone related to you. These letters must be submitted in sealed envelopes.
Photograph – You must include a photograph between 2×2 and 3×3 that has been taken within the past 6 months. The Board recommends using a passport photo.
Jurisprudence Exam – This exam is included in your application packet, and you will fill it out at home. You should review the entire Nevada Practice Act. This includes the Nevada Administrative Code and the Nevada Revised Statutes. You must answer 15 of the 20 questions correctly to pass.
Transcripts – You must provide your high school transcript and transcripts from every college you have attended even if you didn’t earn a degree.
Fee – You must send a money order, personal check, or cashier’s check for $225 made out to the Nevada State Board of Physical Therapy.
You must register for the NPTE-PTA before submitting your application. You will register online and pay a fee of $400 by credit or debit card. You should also reserve a site to test through Prometric. Reno has a Prometric site, as does St. George, Utah if this is more convenient for you.
Once you have done that, you can either deliver your application in person or mail it to this address:
Nevada State Board of Physical Therapy Examiners
7570 Norman Rockwell Lane, Suite 230
Las Vegas, NV 89143
You can apply for a temporary license to practice if you meet the requirements for approval and if you intend to practice in a medically underserved area of Nevada as defined by the Officer of Rural Health at the University of Nevada School of Medicine. You can find more information about this at the website of the Nevada State Office of Rural Health.
Step 3. Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs
Since the NPTE-PTA is a rigorous four-hour test with 200 questions, you should prepare in advance. FSBPT provides a candidate handbook for you to review ahead of time and an online practice exam. These are the topics that will be on this exam:
- Interventions (30.7%)
- Safety & Protection; Professional Responsibilities; Research (6%)
- Equipment & Devices; Therapeutic Modalities (14.7%)
- Physical Therapy Data Collection (20.7%)
- Diseases/Conditions that Impact Effective Treatment (28%)
You need to obtain a score of at least 600 to pass this exam.
Step 4. Begin your Career as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Nevada
Now that you have your license to practice as a PTA in Nevada, you can start your career. You have a number of options in Nevada’s many nursing homes and outpatient clinics or its 57 hospitals.
A number of facilities in Nevada were hiring PTAs in November 2015 and are shown below. This list is informational only, since there is no guarantee that these companies will always be hiring:
- Centra Healthcare Solutions – Reno
- Rose Dominican – Siena – Henderson
- Genesis Rehabilitation Services – Las Vegas
- Reliant Rehabilitation – Las Vegas
- Complex Care Hospital at Tenaya – Las Vegas
- Select Physical Therapy – Las Vegas
- HCR ManorCare – Reno
- Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center – Las Vegas
- MountainView Hospital – Las Vegas
You also have the option of working in the independent practice of a licensed PT.
Once you have found your first job, you need to provide the Board with the name of the facility along with its address, phone and fax numbers. You can do this by fax, mail, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The Board will then fax a copy of your license to the facility. You must post this until you have received your original license in the mail.
You will need to be supervised by an onsite physical therapist for your first 2000 hours of work. The PT will have to sign an Affidavit Verifying Supervision to provide to the Board once you have completed 2000 hours of practice. After this, you can work without a PT on site.
Step 5. Renew your Physical Therapist Assistant License Yearly
Your PTA license will expire each year on July 31. You must complete 15 hours of continuing education from approved courses within the year immediately preceding your application to be able to renew it. Seven hours must be in clinical courses. You can choose from a list of approved courses. Note that 10 hours of instruction equals 1 unit.
You are exempt from the continuing education requirement for your first renewal if you graduated from your approved program and got your license within the twelve-month period preceding your renewal time.