Physical Therapist Assistant Program
This program prepares students for a career in the physical therapy field as a physical therapist assistant. The program combines courses in general education and physical therapist assistant technical courses with off campus clinical education learning experiences. PTA technical courses must be completed in sequence. Students will master selected skills in data collection and interventions commonly used in different physical therapy settings. Graduates of the Associate of Applied Science degree program may apply to take the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) for licensure as a physical therapist assistant.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of physical therapist assistants is projected to grow 24% from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations. About 23,800 openings for physical therapist assistants on average, over the decade. According to the Illinois Career Information System, employment of physical therapist assistants is expected to increase much faster than average through 2024 in Illinois. About 193 job openings are anticipated each year. Physical therapist assistants is one of the top 10 fastest growing occupations in Illinois. The profession of physical therapist assistant is projected to grow 10.22% from 2019-2029 in Illinois. Data from the Local Workforce Investment Area provided by the Illinois Department of Employment Security indicates this profession to have a 11.2% growth in Cook County and 22.2% growth in Will County from 2017-2027. In Cook and Will counties, physical therapist assistants earn a median wage of $66,000 per year.
Physical therapist assistants provide health care services to patients of all ages and health conditions in a variety of settings, including outpatient facilities, hospitals, skilled nursing, extended care, home health, schools, hospice care, industrial/workplace environments, fitness centers and sports training facilities.
Please note that the Physical Therapist Assistant program has special admissions requirements. The Prairie State College PTA program will admit 24 students each fall. Contact PSC Selective Admissions at 708-709-3517.
PTA Program Mission
The Prairie State College Physical Therapist Assistant Program will empower students to develop the entry-level skills required to practice as a PTA in the physical therapy field. The educational foundation will foster critical thinking, skill competence, ethical and moral practice, cultural competence, global societal responsibility and life-long learning.
PTA Program Goals & Outcomes
Goal 1: Graduates will demonstrate competency in the entry-level skills of a physical therapist assistants.
- 100% of students will receive a grade of “Pass” in PT-299 Clinical Practicum II.
- Graduation rate will be at least 70%.
Goal 2: Graduates will successfully pass the required national licensure examination.
- NPTE ultimate pass rate will be at least 85%.
Goal 3: Students will demonstrate safe, legal, ethical and culturally competent behaviors consistent with APTA core documents and state practice acts.
- Students will be rated entry-level on criteria of the Clinical Performance Instrument that relate to safe, legal, ethical and culturally competent behavior upon completion of their terminal clinical experience.
Goal 4: The PTA program will promote the health and wellness of society.
- Students will participate in one health and wellness activity prior to graduation.
Goal 5: The PTA program will reflect contemporary practice for the field of physical therapy.
- Faculty will participate in one faculty development activity related contemporary practice in the area they teach annually.
- Curriculum will be consistent with CAPTE accreditation standards and elements and FSBPT licensure exam content.
Goal 6: The PTA program will promote the importance of lifelong learning.
- The PTA Program will host one continuing education course per year for program alumni.
PTA Program Accreditation
The Physical Therapist Assistant at Prairie State College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; telephone: 703-706- 3245; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: https://www.capteonline.org. If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please Carol Fawcett PTA, BS, MEd at 708-709-3592 or email email@example.com.
Graduates of the Prairie State College Physical Therapist Assistant program will be eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) to practice as physical therapist assistants in for states where licensure is required, Illinois included. Licensure in the state of Illinois is controlled by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Division of Professional Regulation, 320 West Washington St., Springfield, IL 62786, (217) 785-0800 or (217) 782-8556; https://idfpr.illinois.gov/DPR.asp .
It is each student’s responsibility to determine whether he/she is eligible for state licensure. Graduation from this program does not guarantee a passing score on the NPTE for PTA. Please note that each jurisdiction reviews each licensure applicant and may refuse licensure to applicants with past criminal convictions.
This two-year associate in applied science program consists of five consecutive semesters of classroom and clinical education with a strong emphasis on professional standards. The program begins each Fall semester. The program is a blended program with the majority of lecture content and some labs being presented online while labs and skill assessments will occur on campus at designated times. Students will complete off campus clinical education learning experiences at physical therapy facilities in the greater Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana area.
(All courses must be completed with a grade of “C” or higher)
A 91- 100%
B 81 - 90%
C 73 - 80%
F Below 73%
Transfer credit may be considered for PTA 100 Introduction to Physical Therapy. Transfer credit will not be accepted for any other PTA technical course.
Total Credits For Program: 74 Credits
- Ability to push/pull and lift objects more than 50-100 pounds
- Perform patient care for 8-12 hours; stand for prolonged periods of time
- Ability to safely bend, twist, and lift to assist a patient moving from one surface to another.
- Ability to participate in all aspects of therapeutic interventions.
- Ability to perform chest compressions necessary for CPR.
- Possess the coordination, balance, and strength to safely guard and protect a patient during all related physical therapy interventions.
- Possess the agility to move quickly to ensure patient safety.
- Possess manual dexterity to safely grasp, manipulate small objects and dials, feel pulse, muscle tone, bony landmarks and to hold and use a writing instrument for documentation.
- Ability to effectively communicate in verbally and in writing in English.
- Ability to read and understand technical and professional materials.
- Ability to demonstrate sensitivity, confidentiality and respect when speaking with patients, peers, faculty and staff
- Ability to participate in all aspects of therapeutic interventions.
- Normal or corrected visual acuity sufficient to observe a patient’s response to treatment interventions, read or set parameters on physical therapy equipment, observe and assess the environment, gather information from medical records and professional literature.
- Ability to hear and respond to monitors, calls for assistance, alert systems, and verbal directions.
- Ability to concentrate on moderate to fine detail with frequent interruption.
- Ability to attend to multiple functions and patients often for an extended period of time.
- Critical thinking and problem-solving ability sufficient for clinical judgement.
- Ability to select and use technical principles, ideas, and theories in a problem-solving situation and adjust procedures accordingly.
- Ability to work independently and as a team
- Emotional and mental health necessary to effectively apply knowledge and exercise appropriate judgment.
- Ability to demonstrate flexibility and adaptability.
- Ability to practice legal, moral and ethical behavior and accountability.
- Ability to self-evaluate.
- Ability to accept feedback constructive criticism.
- Ability to prioritize and manage multiple tasks simultaneously.
- Ability to interact effectively with patients, families, supervisors, and co-workers regardless of their race, sex, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, or disability.
- Ability to portray professional behavior in all areas, including professional presentation, academic and professional responsibility, and commitment to learning.
- Ability to recognize and respond appropriately to potentially emergent situations.
Applicants must be able to be perform all the essential skills described above. If you are unable to perform any of the skills listed, you should speak to the program coordinator to determine if reasonable accommodations can be made for on-campus course activities and activities performed during clinical experiences.
The academic portion of the PTA program is the beginning of professional training for students desiring to enter the field of physical therapy. As part of their learning experience, PTA students are expected to fully participate in all laboratory activities related to PTA course work and will be required to participate in role playing activities/patient simulation in classroom and lab settings where they will be expected to play the role of both the therapist and the patient.
As a requirement of the PTA program curriculum, enrolled students will complete 680 hours of off campus learning experiences at facilities that offer physical therapy services. As a requirement to participate in off-campus learning experiences, all PTA Students must complete a drug screening, criminal background check and health physical with evidence of updated immunizations. All costs associated with off campus learning experiences are the student’s responsibility.
Criminal Background Check
If a student’s criminal background check presents a positive personal history a student may not be allowed to participate in required off campus clinical experiences and thus may need to withdraw from the PTA program. Please note some facilities may require an additional criminal background check. Cost of all criminal background checks will be at the student’s expense. Disqualifying offenses defined in Section 955.160 of the Health Care Worker Background Check Act is used to determine offenses that would prohibit admission into the program. Details of disqualifying offenses can be found at http://www.idph.state.il.us/nar/disconvictions.htm. If the student believes that the information is in error, they may obtain a fingerprint background check, at his/her own expense, to refute or confirm the initial findings.
Felony convictions may adversely affect their ability to sit for the NPTE licensure exam and/or the ability to be hired as a licensed physical therapist assistant. It is recommended students review licensure requirements in the state they plan to seek licensure. Information on individual state licensing requirements can be found at https://www.fsbpt.org/Secondary-Pages/Exam-Candidates/Applying-for-State-License.
All students must successfully pass a drug screening through CastleBranch as a condition for participation in an off campus learning experience. Authorization for the drug screen shall be furnished by the student and the student shall be responsible for the required fees. The drug screening must be ordered through CastleBranch, available locations to do the screening will be listed through CastleBranch. The student must complete the drug screening at one of those locations. The results are provided from the testing site to CastleBranch for documentation. In the event of a positive drug screen (not cleared by your healthcare provider), you will not eligible for participation in off campus learning experience and may have to withdraw from the program. If the initial drug screen is positive, the student may refute the positive results (legally prescribed substances only) and at the student’s expense, complete a more extensive drug test.
Following the initial drug screen students may be subject to random drug screening for reasonable suspicion, at the request of a off campus clinical facility, or if the student has been out of the program longer than one year.
If a random drug screen is positive without documentation of medical necessity, or a student refuses to complete a random drug screen, the student will not be allowed to continue in the program. If a second drug screen is positive without documented medical necessity or the student refuses to complete a second drug screen, the student will be dismissed from the program without opportunity for reentering.
Any student who fails a urine drug screen or refuses to complete a urine drug screen will be referred to counseling for follow-up.
All students must complete a physical examination and demonstrate proof of immunizations and/or immunity as a condition for participation in an off campus learning experience. The physical examination must include the following:
- A complete physical that verifies the student is capable of performing all essential skills of a PTA.
- Evidence of completion of Hepatitis B immunization (series of three vaccines) or a signed waiver. If unable to verify the dates of the 3 vaccines, Hepatitis antibody titer to assess for immune status can be ordered by the provider. This titer should be at least 1-2 months after the Hepatitis vaccine dose #3.
- Rubella Titer
- Mumps Titer
- QuantiFERON-TB Gold blood test (QFT-G) completed within 12 months of the start of the off campus learning experience
- Rubeola (Measles) Titer
- Varicella (Chicken Pox) Titer
- Tetanus (if not updated in last 10 years)
- Flu vaccine
- COVID-19 vaccine
PSC recognizes that some individuals may not have been vaccinated for a variety of reasons. It is the sole discretion of a clinical site to accept a student who does not provide evidence of vaccinations of immunity. The program will not guarantee an alternate placement if a student is rejected from a clinical site. If a student is rejected from a clinical site due to not having the required vaccinations or proof of immunity the student may be required to withdraw from the program.
Items 1 through 6 must be completed by June 1 of application year
- If not already a Prairie State College student, complete and submit a PSC Admissions Application either online (prairiestate.edu) or in person in Enrollment Services. Application deadline is June 1. Students completing prerequisite courses in the summer term preceding admission may be considered for admission if all seats in the program are not filled on June 1.
- Official high school transcripts (with graduation date) and all official college transcripts must be submitted to Prairie State College by June 1. When submitting official transcripts, a Transcript Evaluation Request Form must also be submitted. If you submit multiple transcripts from the same school (an update to your previous transcript), please be sure to submit another evaluation request. Updated transcripts are not automatically evaluated. Official transcripts must be sent directly to PSC from your previous school. Your previous school can send transcripts electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Skills Prerequisites -
- Math requirement: Placement in PSC’s MATH 094 or higher or successful completion of PSC’s MATH 091 or MATH 093 or equivalent SAT MATH: 460+ or ACT MATH 19+
- English requirement: Completion ENG 101 Composition I with a grade of C or better
- Complete BIOL 221 Anatomy & Physiology I, ENG 101 Composition I, and PTA 100 Introduction to Physical Therapy BEFORE the application deadline of June 1 with a grade of “C” or better. BIOL 221 must be completed within the last five (5) years. A comparable biology at another institution will be considered after review of the curriculum. Students who wish to transfer Anatomy and Physiology credits can only do so if both semesters have been successfully completed at the same institution.
- Points for In-district Applicants: If the program ranking process for admissions is implemented due to having more than 24 qualified applicants, students living in the PSC district are eligible for 2 additional ranking points. Points will be awarded if proof of residency is provided to the selective admission specialist by June 1 even if the applicant is an enrolled student at Prairie State College. Providing proof of residency for in-district students is optional. The applicant must live in the Prairie State College district at least 90 days prior to the application deadline date. It is the applicant's responsibility to demonstrate residency status by submitting two (2) proofs of residency. The following documents may be presented to verify residency and must be in the student's name: voter's registration card, property tax statement, income tax return, mortgage or mortgage statement, utility bills (gas and electric), bank statements, cell phone bill, medical billing statement, and car insurance statement. Proof of residency must list the same address, and they must match the address shown on the student’s PSC records. If seats in the program are limited and students are otherwise equally qualified, preference will be given to in-district students. The applicant must provide current proof of residency every year they apply to the program. Proof of residency can be submitted to Enrollment Services at email@example.com. Please be sure to include your name and the program you are applying to.
- Submit the PTA Program Intent Form available on the PTA program website or from the PTA program Selective Admission Specialist to Enrollment Services by June 1. A PTA Program Intent Form SHOULD NOT BE SUBMITTED until the PSC placement test is completed and test scores are available in Enrollment Services, and all required developmental course work is completed or all official college transcripts showing completed levels of English, math, and reading have been submitted. No hard copy or paper intent forms will be accepted.
In submitting your PTA Program Intent Form, you are acknowledging that you have thoroughly reviewed the "Prairie State College PTA Application and Admissions Procedures" contained in this booklet and understand all of the admission requirements. As well as responsibilities which you must meet to be considered for admission to the PSC PTA Program.
Please go to prairiestate.edu/selectiveadmissions, and click on Apply Now under Program Applications. You will be directed to the application portal. You will need to "sign up" if you have never used the application portal before.
Provisional Program Acceptance
The program may consider applicants who have submitted program intent forms by June 1 if all seats are not filled in the program. In the event one or more students who are notified of being accepted into the PTA program do not accept their seat, register for PTA classes and/or attend the mandatory program orientation, the vacancies will be filled from the remaining qualified applicant pool. Those in the remaining applicant pool will be ranked using the program ranking form found on page 14 of the PTA admissions booklet. Those being considered after the June 1 deadline must complete prerequisite courses prior to the start of the first semester of the PTA program.
Ranking of Applicants
In the event there are more than 24 qualified program intent forms submitted, applicants will be ranked based on points awarded for prerequisite courses completed, general education courses completed before admission into the PTA program and residency in the Prairie State College, Illinois Community College District 515. A list of communities within District 515 can be found at https://prairiestate.edu/about-us/index.aspx. All courses in the ranking system must reflect a grade of “C” or better for admission into the PTA program. One additional point will be given for each course completed at Prairie State College with a grade of “C” or better. See page 14 for a copy of the Physical Therapist Assistant, AAS Ranking Form.
Notification of Acceptance
Applicants accepted into the program will receive notification via email that decision letters are available for viewing in the application portal. Notification will include time sensitive information on next steps in the acceptance process including but not limited to accepting the seat in the program and the date, time and location of a mandatory program orientation. It is the applicant’s responsibility to check their email periodically for information related to their application and information submission. It is the applicant’s responsibility to notify the Enrollment Services Office of any change in address, phone, or email address during the admissions process.
“Next Steps” for Accepted Students Accepted into the PTA Program
1. Accept Seat
All accepted applicants are required to accept their seat in the application portal indicating they plan to begin the program as scheduled by the given deadline.
2. Mandatory Orientation
All accepted applicants are required to attend the mandatory orientation session. The date, time and location of the orientation session will be included in the acceptance letter. Failure to attend without contacting the PTA program coordinator will result in forfeiture of your seat in the PTA program.
3. Registration for PTA Technical Courses
Accepted applicants will be eligible to register for first semester PTA Technical Courses after attending the mandatory PTA orientation session.
Informal Student Complaints
Students displeased with any aspect of their academic experience, outside of final grades are encouraged to initiate complaint redress with the source. Students with issues regarding classroom instruction are first encouraged to address the issue with their instructor. If remedy cannot be achieved the student is directed to the Dean, Allied Health & Emergency Services or Administrator of the division for reconciliation of the concern. The Dean works closely with the student and related faculty to resolve the informal complaint.
Formal Student Complaints
A complaint is not considered formal until a student has completed a student complaint form. Formal student complaints are triaged and investigated by the Manager of Compliance and Effectiveness. The Manager of Compliance and Effectiveness presents recommendations for remediation to the Dean or Administrator. Complaints about course delivery including rigor or alleged faculty misconduct are redressed directly by the subject area Dean.
General Complaints Regarding the PTA Program
Any complaint/grievance related to the Prairie State College PTA program that fall outside of due process that include, but are not limited to, complaints from clinical education sites, employers of graduates, and the general public should be directions to the PTA program coordinator, PTA clinical coordinator or Dean, Allied Health & Emergency Services. Complaints will be maintained in accordance with board policy C-18 Records Retention and Dispositions.
Additional information regarding complaint and grievance procedures can be found in the PSC Board Policies.
Complaints Regarding AccreditationComplaints regarding accreditation must be submitted in writing to:
3030 Potomac Ave. Alexandria, VA 22305-3085
CAPTE recommends those wishing to file a complaint contact them by phone regarding the format of formal complaints. Anonymous formal complaints are not accepted as complaints.