How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in South Dakota

As South Dakota’s population ages, its residents require more rehabilitative and therapeutic interventions to address common injuries among the elderly. This need has been a key factor driving the demand for physical therapy services in South Dakota, affecting both inpatient hospital rehab centers and the large number of outpatient clinics located throughout the state. However, this is just one of a number of factors that is contributing to a growing demand for physical therapy, and spurring job growth for licensed PTAs in South Dakota.

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In addition, healthcare practitioners are referring more nonconventional patients for physical therapy as they come to appreciate the role of physical therapy when it comes to improving mobility. Plus, primary healthcare providers have been referring more post-op patients for rehabilitative therapy.

As a result of the growing demand for physical therapy services, the number of PTA jobs in South Dakota is expected to increase by 27.1% between 2012 and 2022 according to the state’s Department of Labor and Regulation. This is expected to create an average of 11 new jobs each year for licensed PTAs in the state.

Physical therapist assistants in South Dakota find employment in the state’s more than 60 hospitals, as well as sports medicine clinics, nursing homes, outpatient clinics, and home health agencies. Two of South Dakota’s hospitals are nationally ranked according to a 2015 analysis performed by US News and World Report and offer high-quality rehab services to their patients:

  • Sanford USD Medical Center – Sioux Falls
  • Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center – Sioux Falls

Physical rehab facilities in South Dakota have been expanding due to the high demand for PT services in the state. For instance, Athletico opened another physical therapy outpatient clinic in the Dakota Dunes/Sioux City area in 2015. In addition to traditional physical therapy services, this company offers industrial rehabilitation.

Steps to Obtaining a Physical Therapist Assistant License in South Dakota

To start your career as a physical therapist assistant in South Dakota starts by qualifying for a license through the South Dakota Board of Medical & Osteopathic Examiners.

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

Earn A Physical Therapist Assistant Associate’s Degree
Submit An Application for PTA Licensure in South Dakota by Examination
Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs
Get Your Career Started as a Physical Therapist Assistant in South Dakota
Renew Your Physical Therapist Assistant License Yearly



Step 1. Earn a Physical Therapist Assistant Associate’s Degree

Your first step to becoming a licensed PTA in South Dakota is to enroll in a school that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) and approved by the South Dakota Board of Medical & Osteopathic Examiners.

You will attend a CAPTE-accredited school in Watertown that offers an Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant (AAS). Acceptance into the PTA program is competitive, and the school recommends that you have a strong background in biology and enjoy working with people. You will also need to be physically fit.

Your program will combine lecture and laboratory coursework, field trips, discussion, and three clinical experiences. Your PTA coursework will include:

  • Anatomy
  • Intro to PTA
  • Fundamentals of PTA
  • Ethics & Issues in PTA
  • Professionalism in Healthcare
  • Basic Life Support for the Healthcare Worker
  • Medical Terminology
  • Kinesiology
  • Observation & Measurement
  • Physical Agents & Massage
  • Theories of Therapeutic Exercise
  • Pathology for PTA
  • Electrotherapy
  • Musculoskeletal Disorders and Treatment
  • Neuroanatomy & Neurological Dysfunction
  • Human Development & Pediatric Disorders
  • Rehabilitation Procedures
  • Ap in Therapeutic Exercise

You will take part in 18 weeks of full-time clinical internships. You will have a choice of a wide range of sites, since the program has affiliations with sites around the country. The settings for your internships could include rehabilitation agencies, long-term care facilities, hospitals, schools, and private offices. These are just a few of the many locations in South Dakota where your clinical training may take place:

  • Prairie Rehabilitation – Sioux Falls, Brandon, Harrisburg, Hartford, Tea
  • Regional Rehabilitation Institute – Rapid City
  • The Physical Therapy Center – Rapid City
  • Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center – Sioux Falls
  • Sanford Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinic – Sioux Falls
  • Promotion Physical Therapy – Rapid City
  • Black Hills Rehab Hospital – Rapid City



Step 2. Submit An Application for PTA Licensure in South Dakota by Examination

Now that you have your CAPTE-approved physical therapist assistant associate’s degree, you can initiate the state licensing process through the South Dakota Board of Medical & Osteopathic Examiners.

You will start this process by completing and submitting the Online Account Request form on the Board’s website and submitting payment in the amount of $60 to cover the licensing fee. The Board will then email you a username and password that you will use to login and complete your online application for licensure.

Once you have completed your application form, the Board will conduct an initial review and create a to do list of the items that you need to provide for your application file. This list will be updated as you provide the required information, and you can view it online at all times.



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

Now that you have provided all of the information for your application for licensure, your next step is to pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for physical therapist assistants, which is offered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). You must pass this exam before the South Dakota Board of Medical & Osteopathic Examiners (SDBMOE) will grant you a license.

You must get approval from the SDBMOE before you can take the NPTE-PTA. The Board will review your application and make sure that you are qualified to take the exam. You will have to pay a $400 fee online to the FSBPT before you can schedule to take the NPTE-PTA.

When the SBDMOE has your completed application file and approved you, 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. You will pay a nominal proctoring fee at this stage.

The NPTE is a rigorous 200-question exam that will take four hours, so you should prepare in advance. The FSBPT provides both a candidate handbook and an online practice exam. The exam will include these topics:

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

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



Step 4. Get Your Career Started as a Physical Therapist Assistant in South Dakota

Once you have passed the NPTE-PTA, you can start your career as a licensed physical therapist assistant in South Dakota. The state offers a variety of options in its many hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes, and a large number of outpatient clinics that specialize in sports medicine, orthopedics, and physical therapy. Thus, you have a substantial number of choices when it comes to looking for a PTA job in South Dakota.

A survey of job vacancy announcements for licensed physical therapist assistants throughout South Dakota conducted in November 2015 identified the following facilities that were looking to hire (While PTAs are in high demand, this list is for illustrative purposes only and is not meant to imply a guarantee of employment):

  • Aureus Medical Group – Mitchell
  • The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society – Clear Lake
  • Aegis Therapies – Rapid City, Huron, Tyndall, Sioux Falls, Ipswich, Wagner
  • HCR ManorCare – Aberdeen
  • Mitchell South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation – Mitchell

You also have the option of working in the independent private practice of a licensed physical therapist.



Step 5. Renew Your Physical Therapist Assistant License Yearly

You will have to renew your physical therapist assistant license before January 1 each year, or you will not be able to continue practicing. The Board will mail instructions to you on how to renew your license.

You must complete 15 continuing education units in the year preceding your license renewal. The South Dakota Board of Medical & Osteopathic Examiners does not require any particular courses, although it specifies that your coursework must update your competency in physical therapy and practice. You can find continuing education courses sponsored or approved by these organizations:

You will have to sign a statement that confirms that you completed your required continuing education units. You should keep the documentation of your coursework in case the Board randomly audits you.

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