The growing demand in Oregon for rehabilitative and therapeutic interventions for those recovering from surgery or injuries have helped contribute to tremendous growth in the field of physical therapy, leading to the expansion of rehab facilities and a growing demand for skilled therapists and assistants. In fact, the Oregon Employment Department expects job growth in the physical therapist assisting profession to be much faster than the state’s overall average rate of job growth in the coming years. With the Department expecting the number of jobs for PTAs in the state to increase by 32% during the ten-year period spanning 2012-2022, there have never been more opportunities for new PTA program graduates entering the field.
Oregon’s physical therapist assistants are found working in the state’s nearly 70 hospital inpatient rehab centers, as well as in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, specialty outpatient clinics, schools and countless other settings. The demand for PT services in Oregon is so great that it has been fueling the expansion of physical rehabilitation facilities in recent years. For instance, Impact Physical Therapy in Hillsboro expanded its facility by 50% in 2013, dramatically increasing the number of clients it serves, and adding dedicated space for BikeFit and general motion analysis.
Steps to Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in Oregon
Your career as a physical therapist assistant in Oregon starts by qualifying for a license through the Oregon Physical Therapist Licensing Board.
Follow the step-by-step instructions in this simple guide to learn how to become a physical therapist assistant in Oregon:
Step 1. Complete a Physical Therapist Assistant Associate’s Degree Program
Your first step to becoming a licensed PTA in Oregon is to enroll in one of the two physical therapist assistant schools in the state that have been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) and approved by the Oregon Physical Therapist Licensing Board.
You can find CAPTE-approved schools in Eugene and Gresham that offer two-year Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant (AAS) degrees. One of the programs is partly online, while the other is a full-time day program.
You will have to submit your immunization records, drug screen results, and federal and state background check results to a private company called Certified Background Check in order to enter the PTA program at one of the schools.
Your education will be comprised of a mixture of lecture and laboratory coursework and clinical internships. While the coursework varies between the two schools, typical courses include:
- Medical Terminology
- Applied Kinesiology I and II
- PT Interventions – Orthopedic Dysfunctions
- PT Interventions – Neurological Dysfunctions
- PT Interventions – Complex Medical Dysfunctions
- PT and Older Adults
You will spend six weeks of full time supervised clinical practice in three separate rotations to gain real-world exposure to working with patients. Potential sites for PTA internship experience in Oregon include:
- Samaritan Physical Rehabilitation – Corvallis
- Legacy Rehabilitation Institute of Oregon – Portland
- Providence Acute Rehabilitation Center – Providence
- Salem Hospital Regional Rehabilitation Center – Salem
- Adventist Health Physical Therapy – various locations
Step 2. Submit your Application for Licensure by Examination and Take the State Jurisprudence Exam
Now that you have your CAPTE-approved physical therapist assistant degree, you can apply to get your license to practice in Oregon. You must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs, which is offered through the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) before the Oregon Physical Therapist Licensing Board (OPTLB) will grant you a license.
However, you must first complete a licensure application packet to gain approval from the OPTLB before you can take the NPTE-PTA. The OPTLB will review your application and then notify the FSBPT that you are eligible to take the NPTE-PTA.
Your first step is to download your Application for Licensure and fill it out. The application includes a background questionnaire. You must also attach a 2” x 2” recent photograph to the application.
If you answer yes to any of the questions that indicate that you have been arrested, you will need to provide a detailed letter of explanation and all court documents, police reports, and final actions.
Send your application and a $162 personal check, cashier’s check, or money order made out to the OPTLB to pay for your licensing to this address:
Oregon Physical Therapist Licensing Board
800 NE Oregon Street, Suite 407
Portland, OR 97232-2187
You must also take the Oregon State Physical Therapy Jurisprudence Exam and answer all 25 questions correctly before your application will be considered. You will be examined on your knowledge of Oregon’s statutes and administrative rules for physical therapy. You should download the latest versions of these documents from the OPTLB website:
- Revised Statutes Chapter 688
- Administrative Rules Chapter 848
If you do not complete all questions correctly, the Board will email you to tell you which questions you got wrong, so you can retake the exam.
You also need to send a Certificate of Professional Education to your school to verify that you have completed your PTA associate’s degree program. Your school must send this form directly to the OPTLB. This Board will not accept this form if it is submitted by you.
The OPTLB will arrange for a background check to be performed on you as part of the application process.
At anytime during the application process you may register for the NPTE-PTA online directly through the FSBPT. You will pay the $400 exam fee online by credit card when you register. Though you can register at any point during the application process, you can only take the exam after the Board grants you approval.
Step 3. Consider Applying for a Temporary Permit to Practice as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Oregon
You have the option of working as a physical therapist assistant while you wait to take your NPTE-PTA exam. To do so, you must submit a Temporary Permit Application Form along with a $50 fee made payable to the OPTLB. This form includes a letter that your employer will have to fill out and return within 5 working days of the start of your employment.
You must meet these conditions to apply for your temporary permit:
- File your complete application and pay the fee
- Pass the Jurisprudence Examination
- File your temporary permit application and pay the fee
- Provide proof that you graduated from a CAPTE accredited PTA program
- Pass your criminal record check
- File your application to take the NPTE-PTA
- Work with a supervising PT in the building who is immediately available for consultation
You can practice for 90 days at the most, and you will have to surrender your permit if you don’t pass the NPTE.
Step 4. Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs
When the Oregon Physical Therapist Licensing Board has your completed application file, it will notify the FSBPT that you can take the NPTE-PTA. The FSBPT will send you an authorization to test letter that will let you schedule your test date with the third-party testing company Prometric.
The NPTE-PTA is a 200-question exam that will take four hours to complete, so you should prepare in advance. The FSBPT provides both a candidate handbook and an online practice exam. The exam will include these topics:
- Interventions (30.7%)
- Equipment & Devices; Therapeutic Modalities (14.7%)
- Diseases/Conditions that Impact Effective Treatment (28%)
- Physical Therapy Data Collection (20.7%)
- Safety & Protection; Professional Responsibilities; Research (6%)
You need to obtain a score of at least 600 to pass the NPTE-PTA.
Step 5. Begin your Career as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Oregon
Now that you have passed the NPTE-PTA, you can start your career as a licensed physical therapist assistant in Oregon. You have a variety of options to choose from between Oregon’s universities, community health programs, assisted living facilities, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and home health agencies, among others.
Some of the top employers of PTAs in Oregon include:
- Coast Fork Nursing Center – Cottage Grove
- Infinity Rehab – Keiser, Portland
- Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service at the VA Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center & Clinics – White City
- Good Samaritan Eugene Village – Eugene
You also have the option of working in the independent private practice of a licensed PT.
If you make any changes to your place of employment, mailing address, email address, or phone number, you must report this to the Oregon Physical Therapist Licensing Board within 30 days using its Online Address Change Form.
Step 6. Renew your Physical Therapist Assistant License Every Two Years
Your physical therapist assistant license will expire on March 31 of each even-numbered year. The OPTLB will notify you in January that it is time to renew and let you know what the renewal fee is. The renewal period runs from January 1 through March 31. If you do not renew by April 1, you will have to stop practicing immediately.
You will participate in continuing education during each renewal period in order to maintain your license. If you got your license in the second year of a certification period, you must complete 12 hours of the continuing competency requirements. Otherwise, you must complete 24 hours for your full two-year period.
You can find the detailed requirements for the types of continuing education allowed in Chapter 35 of the Oregon Administrative Rules. You must take one hour of the Pain Management Module online, and you can obtain the rest of your education from organizations such as these: