How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in North Dakota

The physical therapist assistant profession is considered so promising in North Dakota that the state’s Workforce Intelligence Network has reported expecting “exceptional growth for PTAs” for the period spanning 2012-2022.

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In 2014, there were 120 physical therapist assistants licensed to practice in North Dakota. Even so, the North Dakota Workforce Intelligence Network expects this number to grow significantly as the demand for therapeutic and rehabilitative services continue to rise. In fact, the Network expects the number of physical therapist assistant jobs in the state to increases by 30.4% during the ten-year period leading up to 2022.

North Dakota’s physical therapist assistants find employment in the state’s 50 hospital inpatient rehab centers, as well as outpatient clinics, nursing homes, schools and home health agencies, among many others. North Dakota’s recent Medicaid Expansion helped to increase the number of citizens in the state who are eligible for physical therapy by covering the cost of 30 therapy sessions per calendar year. This has led to an increased demand for skilled therapists and assistants in the state.

There is such a demand for PT services in Eastern North Dakota that Cobalt Medical Development is investing $20 million in a new rehabilitation hospital in Fargo. The 55,000-square foot facility should open in early 2017 and create 140 new jobs.

Steps to Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in North Dakota

Your career as a physical therapist assistant in North Dakota starts by qualifying for a PTA license through the North Dakota Board of Physical Therapy.

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

Earn an Associate’s Degree in Physical Therapist Assisting
Submit your Application for Licensure by Examination and Take the State Jurisprudence Examination
Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs
Get your Career Started as a PTA in North Dakota
Renew your Physical Therapist Assistant License Each Year



Step 1. Earn an Associate’s Degree in Physical Therapist Assisting

Your first step to becoming a licensed PTA in North Dakota is to enroll in an associate’s degree program through one of the many schools that have been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) and approved by the North Dakota Board of Physical Therapy.

While North Dakota is not home to any PTA programs approved by CAPTE, you can attend a college that is located in East Grand Forks, MN—83 miles north of Fargo. At the conclusion of this two-year program you will obtain an Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant (AAS).

Your education will be a combination of classroom and laboratory coursework, and will culminate in a clinical practicum. The courses you can expect to take as part of an associate’s degree program in physical therapist assisting include:

  • Medical Terminology
  • Introduction to PTA
  • Fundamentals of PTA
  • PTA Pathophysiology
  • Physical Agents
  • Clinical Kinesiology
  • Therapeutic Exercise I and II
  • Orthopedics for PTA
  • Neurology for PTA
  • Advanced Techniques
  • PTA Ethics and Issues
  • Anatomy and Physiology I and II

The clinical practicum component of your program will consist of 14 credits, which will involve rotations in various clinical facilities where your skills will be honed and you will learn how to interact with patients. The first step towards qualifying to participate in a clinical practicum will be to take a one-credit clinical introduction course. You must meet several conditions to be able to take this course:

  • Forty hours of observation, volunteer, or work experience in a PT department
  • Current certification in CPR
  • Completion of the college’s Health Screening & Immunization form
  • A background study by the Minnesota Department of Human Services Licensing Division

Potential sites for clinical practicum in North Dakota include:

  • Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute – Minneapolis
  • Minnesota Masonic Home – Bloomington
  • Regions Hospital Rehabilitation Unit – St. Paul
  • Fairway Acute Rehabilitation Center – Minneapolis
  • CentraCare Health – Monticello
  • Essential Health St. Joseph’s Rehabilitation Center – Brainerd
  • Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinic at University of Minnesota Medical Center – Minneapolis



Step 2. Submit your Application for Licensure by Examination and Take the State Jurisprudence Examination

After earning your physical therapist assistant degree, you can initiate the license application and national exam registration processes.

License Application

You can apply in one of two ways:

  • Apply for your license online and choose “Examination” as your method of application
  • Download an Application for Licensure form and mail it to the Board of Physical Therapy

When you prepare your application, you will need to attach a photograph of your head and shoulders taken within the past six months and then have the form notarized.

You will need to pay a $200 licensing fee either online with a credit card or by enclosing a check with your application made out to the NT Board of PT.

North Dakota Jurisprudence Exam

Download the open book Juris Prudence Examination and consult the legal requirements of practicing as a physical therapist assistant in North Dakota in these documents:

If you are submitting a paper application, you will send it along with the Juris Prudence Examination to this address:

North Dakota Board of Physical Therapy
P.O. Box 69
Grafton, ND 58237

In addition, you must have your school send documentation that you completed your degree. You should have them send your official transcripts directly to the Physical Therapy Board. If an official transcript is not yet available when you are applying, your school’s director should send a letter stating that you will be graduating shortly.

Register for the NPTE-PTA

You must register the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs available through the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) as part of the licensing process. While your application for licensure is being processed, register for the exam online with FSBPT and pay the $400 exam fee. You will not be permitted to take the exam until the North Dakota Board of Physical Therapy has reviewed your application for licensure and granted approval. You can apply for the exam at any point during your application process.



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

When the North Dakota Board of Physical Therapy has granted approval for you to take the NPTE-PTA, the FSBPT will send you a notification that you will then use to schedule the exam. You will be scheduling through the third-party exam provider Prometric, which will require you to pay an additional exam fee of $70.

Preparing in advance will help ensure your success on the exam, which consists of 200 questions taken over a four-hour period. The FSBPT provides both a candidate handbook and an online practice exam.

The exam will include these topics:

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

You need to obtain a score of at least 600 to pass the NPTE-PTA.



Step 4. Get your PTA Career Started in North Dakota

Now that you have passed the NPTE-PTA, you can start your career as a licensed physical therapist assistant in North Dakota. You have a variety of options between North Dakota’s nursing homes, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and home health agencies.

The facilities shown below were hiring PTAs in North Dakota during November 2015. While the demand for PTAs should continue to be robust, this list is informational purposes only, since there is no guarantee that these facilities will always be hiring:

  • Aureus Medical Group – Minot
  • Supplemental Health Care – Oakes
  • Ardor Healthcare Solutions – Enderlin
  • McKenzie County Healthcare Systems – Watford City
  • Infinity Rehab – Oakes
  • RehabVisions – Dickinson
  • The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society – Bottineau
  • Aegis Therapies – Bismarck

You also have the option of working in the independent practice of a licensed PT.



Step 5. Renew your Physical Therapist Assistant License Each Year

Your physical therapist assistant license will expire on January 31 of each year. The Physical Therapy Board will send you a renewal application form when it is time to renew, and the Board requires that you inform them of any address or name change within 30 days. You will have to pay a $60 fee to renew your license.

New graduates are exempt from the continuing education requirements, but you will have to complete them for your second renewal. The Board requires that you obtain 25 contact hours of continuing education every two years.

Your two-year period will vary depending on whether you got your license in an odd or even year. If you got your license in an even-numbered year, you will report your continuing education hours during even-numbered years. If you got your license in an odd-numbered year, you will report in odd-numbered years instead.

The Board will provide a form for you to sign and have notarized that indicates that you completed your required hours. All courses from these organizations are approved:

Fifteen hours of your continuing education must relate directly to clinical care. Up to 5 of these hours can include CPR.

The Board will randomly choose renewal applicants to audit their continuing education hours. If you are chosen, you must provide proof that you completed your contact hours.

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