Physical therapist assistants play a vital role in helping people who have faced life-threatening injuries recover and reach optimum levels of health.
In 2014, Ohio was home to 5,190 licensed physical therapist assistants— the second highest number of any state in the nation, according to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor area, specifically, has the ninth highest employment level in the U.S., with nearly 1,000 licensed physical therapist assistants in that area alone.
Near the Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor area is South Pointe Hospital in Warrensville Heights. With both inpatient and outpatient physical therapy units, South Pointe’s physical therapists offer numerous advanced services, including aquatic therapy, dysphagia treatment, the McKenzie method, and kinesiotaping.
Numerous physical therapists offering advanced, unique services inherently indicate a high demand for PT assistants. In fact, The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services expects the number of physical therapist jobs in the state to increase by 30.4% between 2012 and 2022, making physical therapist assisting one of Ohio’s fastest growing professions.
Steps to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in Ohio
If you’re ready to start your career as a physical therapist assistant in Ohio, you’ll begin by earning a license with the Ohio Occupational therapy, Physical Therapy, and Athletic Trainers (OTPTAT) Board.
For guidance on how to become a licensed physical therapist assistant in Ohio, follow these steps:
Step 1. Earn a Physical Therapist Assistant Associate’s Degree from a CAPTE-Accredited School
Your first step toward an Ohio physical therapist assistant license is to earn an associate’s degree.
You will need to attend a school that offers an associate’s degree that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). The OTPTAT Board lists schools that offer approved, CAPTE-accredited programs, which have campus locations in various cities:
- Warrensville Heights
These schools will either offer an academic associate’s degree or an occupational associate’s degree:
- An academic associate’s degree—the associate of science (AS)
- An occupational associate’s degree—the associate of applied science (AAS)
Either way, both degree programs will include two years of coursework, lab work, and clinical experiences.
A typical CAPTE-accredited physical therapist assistant associate’s degree program consists of courses such as these:
- Medical Terminology & Documentation
- Functional Anatomy for PTA I
- Functional Anatomy for PTA I Lab
- Introduction to Physical Therapy
- Kinesiology I Lab
- Functional Anatomy for PTA II
- Introduction to Patient Care
- Kinesiology I Theory
- Kinesiology II Lab
- Introduction to Disease
- Kinesiology II Theory
- Therapeutic Interventions I
- Neurological Therapeutic Interventions Lab
- Neurological Therapeutic Interventions
- Physical Agents I
- Clinical Preparation
- Clinical I
- Manual Therapy Techniques
- PTA Professional Issues
- Musculoskeletal Therapeutic Interventions
- Musculoskeletal Therapeutic Interventions Lab
- Physical Agents II
- Special Populations Therapeutic Interventions
- Special Populations Therapeutic Interventions Lab
- Practice Clinical Simulation
- Orthotic and Prosthetic Fitting Therapeutic Interventions
- Special Topics in PT Practice
- Clinical II
- Licensure Exam Prep
- Clinical III
Once you get close to graduation, you will be ready to submit your application for an Ohio physical therapist assistant license.
Step 2. Submit a License by Examination Application to the OTPTAT Board
The OTPTAT Board allows you to begin the application process before you graduate from your physical therapist assistant associate’s degree. However, because of the time-sensitive materials, the Board recommends you wait until 2-4 weeks before you graduate.
This application will serve two purposes: it will allow the Board to approve you to take the licensing exams, and it will allow the Board to issue your license once you pass the exams.
To complete the full application process, you will need to closely follow the physical therapy examination application instructions, which outline detailed information on completing these simple steps:
- Submit online initial license application for physical therapist assistants
- After completing the online application, submit Certification of Applicant
- Submit your fingerprints for a criminal records check by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Attach a passport-sized, 2×2 inch photograph to your Certification of Applicant
- Submit a Certification of Entry-Level Education directly from your educational institution
- Submit an Entry-Level Education Pre-Completion Form if you are applying before completion of your associate’s degree
- Register for the Ohio Jurisprudence Exam with the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT)
- Register for the National Physical Therapist Exam (NPTE) for PTAs with FSBPT
- Submit $100.00 application fee
You can send all application materials to the Board at the following address:
Physical Therapy Section
Ohio Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Athletic Trainers Board
77 South High Street, 16th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6108
Your application will be on file for one year. You will need to complete each part of the application within that year. When the Board receives your application, they will send you an email with login information to check the status of your application.
After you submit the application for examination to the Board and register for your exams with FSBPT, the Board will grant you eligibility to sit for the exams.
Step 3. Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination for PTAs and the Ohio Jurisprudence Exam
Once the Board approves your application to sit for the NPTE-PTA, the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) will send you an “Authorization to Test” letter (ATT) by email.
This email will have instructions on scheduling the date and time of your exam with the testing vendor, Prometric. Prometric has testing centers in various Ohio cities, including:
- Middleburg Heights
National Physical Therapist Exam (NPTE) for PTAs
This is a 200-question exam that will test you concerning your ability to apply physical therapy concepts to various content areas.
Physical therapy concepts that will be tested on this exam include:
- Physical Therapy Data Collection (20.7%)
- Diseases/Conditions that Impact Effective Treatment (28%)
- Interventions (30.7%)
- Equipment & Devices & Therapeutic Modalities (14.7%)
- Safety and Protection (6.0%)
Content areas include, but are not limited to, areas such as:
- Cardiovascular/Pulmonary & Lymphatic systems
- Integumentary System
- Metabolic & Endocrine Systems
- Gastrointestinal System
- Genitourinary System
- Musculoskeletal System
- Neuromuscular & Nervous Systems
You will need to pass this exam with a score of 600 or higher. If you want to check your results, you can request an individual score report directly from FSBPT.
Ohio Jurisprudence Exam
Before taking this exam, be sure to read the Candidate Handbook for the Ohio Physical Therapist Jurisprudence Exam, which outlines:
- Security information
- Examination information
- Scoring information
- Admission to the exam
- Administrative policies
This will be a 50-question, multiple-choice exam that covers Ohio laws and rules, including:
- Chapter 4755. of the Ohio Revised Code
- Chapters 4755-21 to 4755-29 of the Ohio Administrative Code (collectively referred to as the Ohio Physical Therapy Practice Act)
Specifically, the exam will include questions on the following topics:
- Legislative Intent and Definitions – 3 items
- Powers and Duties of the Board – 3 items
- Licensure and Examination – 11 items
- Patient Care Management – 10 items
- Disciplinary Actions – 11 items
- Consumer Advocacy – 2 items
You will have one hour to complete the exam. You should earn a score of 600 or higher in order to pass. FSBPT will send your scores directly to the Board.
Once you pass both examinations, the Board will issue you an Ohio physical therapist assistant license.
Step 4. Begin Your Physical Therapist Assistant Career In Ohio
As a licensed physical therapist assistant, you can look for jobs in Ohio’s hospitals, medical centers, and rehabilitation centers, which include:
- Encore Rehabilitation Services – Warrensville Heights
- RehabCare Group – Akron
- Brookdale – Westlake
- Cleveland Clinic – Solon
- Southwest General Health – Middleburg Heights
- Warren Physical Therapy – Warren
- Physiotherapy Associates – Montgomery County
- ProHealth Therapy – Sandusky
- Functional Pathways – Cincinnati
- Mercy Health – Youngstown
Instead of working in a large clinic, some physical therapist assistants choose to work in independent practices with licensed physical therapists.
Step 5. Complete 12 Hours of Continuing Education to Renew Your License
Physical Therapist Assistant licenses expire on January 31 of odd numbered years. For your first renewal, you are exempt from continuing education requirements. However, for every renewal after that, you will need to complete a minimum of 12 contact hours of continuing education.
To earn continuing education credits, you can attend courses, workshops, seminars, or conferences hosted by organizations such as:
- Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education
- American Physical Therapy Association
- Ohio Physical Therapy Association
For any other continuing education providers, you will want to submit an application for approval with the Ohio Physical Therapy Association.
Once you’ve completed your continuing education, you can renew your license online.