The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions (DWS) considers the physical therapist assistant profession to be so promising that it rates PTAs as having a “bright outlook statewide.” In fact, it listed the field as 17th on its list of the top 25 occupations with the fastest projected employment growth.
In 2015, there were 340 physical therapist assistants practicing in New Mexico. The DWS expects that their numbers will increase by 31.3% between 2012 and 2022, generating an average of 19 new PTA jobs in the state each year.
New Mexico offers an array of employment options for physical therapist assistants in its many hospital in-patient rehabilitation centers, specialty outpatient clinics, and nursing homes. The Lovelace Rehabilitation Hospital in Albuquerque has earned accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) in six different physical therapy programs—the most of any rehab facility in New Mexico. Its specialties range from brain injury inpatient rehab programs to a spinal cord system of care.
Steps to Obtaining a Physical Therapist Assistant Certificate in New Mexico
To begin your career as a physical therapist assistant in New Mexico, you’ll start by qualifying for a certificate through the New Mexico Physical Therapy Board.
Follow the step-by-step instructions in this simple guide to learn how to become a physical therapist assistant in New Mexico:
Step 1. Complete a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Associate’s Degree Program
Your first step to becoming a licensed PTA in New Mexico 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 New Mexico Physical Therapy Board.
You have the choice of two schools in Albuquerque and one in Farmington that offer the following degrees:
- Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assistant (AS)
- Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant Program (AAS)
- Associate of Occupational Sciences in Physical Therapist Assistant (AOS)
Through some colleges offers an online option, students would be required to be on campus for PTA lab course near the end of the semester.
Your education will consist of didactic courses and clinical practicums at multiple rehab facilities. Your courses will vary depending on which school you attend, but typical coursework includes:
- Physical Therapist Assistant Techniques
- Administrative Procedures
- Therapeutic Exercise
- Anatomy & Physiology
- Communications for the Health Professions
- Fundamentals of Disease
- Growth & Development
- Introduction to Kinesiology
You will spend about 640 hours in a total of three different clinical practicums working directly with patients under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. Possible locations for clinical training in New Mexico include:
- Lovelace Rehabilitation Hospital – Albuquerque
- Advanced Care Hospital of Southern New Mexico – Las Cruces
- New Mexico Rehabilitation Center – Roswell
- HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital – Albuquerque
- New Mexico Orthopaedics – Albuquerque
Step 2. Submit Your Application for PTA Licensure in New Mexico by Examination
Now that you have your PTA associate’s degree from a CAPTE-accredited college, you must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs to get your license to practice in New Mexico.
Your first step to do this is to apply for your New Mexico PTA license. You must submit your Physical Therapist Assistant Application which you can download from the Board’s Forms and Applications page. You will also need to submit these items:
- $225 application/jurisprudence fee
- A passport-sized photograph taken within the past year and signed in ink on the bottom right corner
- An official transcript from your university
You will also have to pass the 50-question Jurisprudence Exam which you can download from the same page as your application. You will submit your exam with your application.
Once you have all the information and have answered your exam questions, you will mail your application to this address:
New Mexico Physical Therapy Board
P.O. Box 25101
Santa Fe, NM 87505
You also have the option of applying for temporary licensure if you have not yet taken the NPTE-PTA. You must include a Temporary Licensure Supervisory Form that you can download from the Forms and Applications page. You must have this form notarized and submit it along with a $35 fee.
Step 3. Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs
Your first step in taking the NPTE-PTA is to register for it online with the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). You will have to pay a $400 fee for this exam by credit or debit card. You must arrange for your scores to be sent directly to the Board.
Now you can schedule your exams at a Prometric site in the city that is most convenient for you. You can find Prometric sites in these cities:
- Santa Fe
- Las Cruces
You should prepare in advance for the NPTE-PTA which is a 200-question exam. You will four hours to complete it. The FSBPT provides a candidate handbook for you to review ahead of time. The Federation also offers an online practice exam that would be wise to take. These are the topics that will be on this exam:
- Safety & Protection; Professional Responsibilities; Research (6%)
- Physical Therapy Data Collection (20.7%)
- Interventions (30.7%)
- Equipment & Devices; Therapeutic Modalities (14.7%)
- Diseases/Conditions that Impact Effective Treatment (28%)
You need to obtain a score of at least 600 to pass this exam.
Step 4. Start Working as a Physical Therapist Assistant in New Mexico
Now that you have passed the NPTE-PTA exam, you are qualified to practice as a PTA in New Mexico. You can start your career in one of New Mexico’s 55 hospitals or its many outpatient clinics and nursing homes.
A number of facilities were hiring PTAs in November 2015. This list is informational only, since there is no guarantee that these companies will always be hiring:
- Paramount Rehabilitation – Albuquerque
- Aegis Therapies – Albuquerque, Las Cruces
- Reliant Rehabilitation – Artesia, Lordsburg
- Artesia General Hospital – Artesia
- Nor-Lea Hospital District – Lea
- MTX Therapy Services – Tucumcari
- Gila Regional Medical Center – Silver City
- Aureus Medical Group – Truth or Consequences, Carlsbad
You also have the option of working in a licensed PT’s independent practice.
Step 5. Renew your New Mexico PTA License Every Two Years
Your PTA license will expire on February 1, 2017. The Board will send you a notice in the mail to remind you to renew. To ensure that your renewal is processed on time, you should submit it by January 15, 2017. You will need to submit a Renewal Form which you can download from the Board’s Forms and Applications page. The fee to renew is $120.
The Board requires that you obtain 30 contact hours during this renewal cycle. You will have to list these on your renewal form. The Board will randomly audit renewal applicants and ask them to prove that they obtained these credits. If you are chosen, you will need to provide copies of your certificates of completion along with your application. You should mail these together. If you mail them separately, it may delay the processing of your renewal.
The Board provides a listing of Approved CEU Courses at its website. Your options range from taking online or home study courses to attending conferences.