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VOL. 42 | NO. 36 | Friday, September 7, 2018

Finding a niche: physical therapy assistant

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Between 2016 and 2026 expect job growth of 31.0% for physical therapist assistant.

-- Bureau of Labor Statistics

Several institutions in the state, including Chattanooga State Community College, Roane State Community College in Oak Ridge, South College in Knoxville and Volunteer State Community College, offer accredited two-year degrees that train students to be physical therapy assistants, often called a PTA.

Regina Brown, center, is the director of Volunteer State University’s physical therapy assistant program. She is seen here working with students during a classroom session.

-- Submitted Photograph By Richard Suter Courtesy Of Volunteer State

Daniel Ashley, director of clinical education at Vol State’s physical therapist assistant program, says he’s seen demand for PTAs increase “at least 100 percent” since he began his career over 30 years ago.

“There is more and more demand over time, and it’s really not expected to stop,” Ashley acknowledges. “One way in which the profession is unique is that we’re good at finding niche markets that need specialized areas of service.

“The American population has become so much more educated about their health and physical well-being that it’s created a larger need for both physical therapy and physical therapy assistants. People of all ages want to stay physically active so [a career as a physical therapy assistant] certainly spans across generations.”

Ashley says many people apply to the program because they have already been in the workforce and want a more fulfilling career, but one that doesn’t require a commitment of a four- or six-year degree.

“They often want to get into a practice in a fairly quick period of time,” he adds. “That’s one thing that makes our program attractive. To become a physical therapist now takes six years. Our students can complete an accredited associate degree in two years.”

– Linda Bryant

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