Physical Therapist Assistant FAQ

This is a working page. If you find a link that does not work or an answer that seems to not meet your needs, please contact APTA Pennsylvania Chapter Office.

How do I become a PTA?

There are 20 PTA schools in Pennsylvania. At the top of the map, select “PTA Programs” before clicking on your state.  

Why should I join the APTA as a PTA?

Joining your professional association is always of benefit. Membership includes continuing education and business and liability insurance discounts.  Even more important is the support your professional association can provide in policy and practice areas. APTA supports and fights for your rights for fair reimbursement and advocates for what you provide your patients and the importance of your role in clinical practice. As a member, you also have access to evidence-based practice information.

  • Learn more about why you should join the APTA Pennsylvania!
  • Please access APTA Pennsylvania’s Membership Committee page for further information.  

What does the PTA SIG do?

The purpose of the Physical Therapist Assistant Special Interest Group (PTA SIG) is to provide a means by which physical therapist assistants, physical therapists, and students can meet, exchange information, identify issues, and network. We are a mentoring group that provides guidance and direction from the clinical level to member support. Those who have a common interest in a special area of physical therapy practice can confer and exchange ideas. The PTA SIG serves as a clinical resource for all APTA Pennsylvania members and the SIG itself.

In addition, we respond to areas of concern related to PTA SIG members in guiding questions to the appropriate area of support. We advocate and advance the needs of PTAs throughout the commonwealth. As one of many APTA Pennsylvania SIGs, we support all areas of clinical practice, yet provide specific PTA content, and address the needs and concerns and support PTAs within APTA. Review the full list of APTA Pennsylvania Special Interest Groups.

What is the PTA Caucus?

The PTA Caucus represents the Physical Therapist Assistants’ interests, needs, and issues in APTA governance. The PTA Caucus is active year-round and is the voice of PTA members during the APTA House of Delegates. The House of Delegates is the policy making body of APTA.

How can I get more involved in the profession?

There are many volunteer opportunities available to our members. These range in time from a one-day opportunity to becoming a member of a committee or more active in a Special Interest Group (SIG). You can contact the PTA SIG or your specific APTA Pennsylvania District Chair to inquire about available opportunities. 

Is it worth it to get an indirect supervision license?

Getting your indirect license is a personal preference. Some employers will look for this license because it gives them greater flexibility in providing patient care that relies on the PTA. The indirect license gives the PTA the ability to treat without constant PT supervision. This will provide an advantage in skilled nursing and home health. Please follow this link for more information and for supervisory requirements when you hold an indirect license based on the practice setting.

What else is available to me as a PTA?

PTAs have the option to get an advanced proficiency pathway certificate through the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). The areas currently available are acute care, cardiovascular/pulmonary, geriatrics, oncology, pediatrics, and wound management. 

PTAs can acquire several different certifications related to lymphedema, strength and conditioning, Parkinson’s Disease - LSVT Big, kinesio taping, myofacial release, and aquatics.

What is the next step in my career? 

Well, there are many steps one may take. What are your interests? Leadership? Teaching? Mentoring?

  • Leadership: As a APTA Pennsylvania member, you have many options. You can become active in a special interest group or committee. The APTA Pennsylvania consists of 7 districts organized geographically. Each district has a PTA Liaison position. This person is a communication bridge between the district PTAs and the PTA Caucus. A PTA can hold the position of district secretary or treasurer. The PTA Caucus is a national level position that connects you with PTAs in every chapter or state and provides an opportunity to step into the governing aspect of our profession. The Health Policy & Administration Section also provides leadership training in their LAMP programs.  
  • Teaching: Your first contact would be your alma mater! Opportunities such as assisting in lab activities or becoming a guest speaker is a great place to start. Becoming an APTA Certified Clinical Instruction is a great option! The Academy of Physical Therapy Education, which is a component of APTA, provides many resources to its members that can help you become involved in teaching. You may also look at Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.
  • Mentoring: Mentoring can be done at all levels. In teaching, leadership, and becoming a clinical instructor. Contact your district or special interest group leadership to discuss your desire to mentor others in our profession.

What is the best thing I can do to advocate for the PTA profession?

Becoming a member of the professional association is by far the best first step. Becoming active and advocating for our profession on a legislative level is quite simple to do. Review the state-wide political action committee (PAC) information. There is also an app for your phone that makes advocating easy! APTA Action App is easy to download and provides information on bills that are currently being followed and will also lead you to your local representatives. The APTA Advocacy page provides more advocacy information.

I have a question regarding what the PTA scope of practice is. Who can answer my question?

You can contact the APTA Pennsylvania Practice and Research Committee or the Ethics Committee. They can help guide you in finding answers to your scope of practice questions.

How do I access information on PTA reimbursement?

General reimbursement answers can be found on the APTA Pennsylvania Reimbursement page. APTA Pennsylvania members will also have access to APTA resources listed on the Reimbursement page.

How can I improve the working relationship with my supervising Physical Therapist?

APTA has valuable information available for PT/PTA Teams.

Is there mentorship available?

Contact your current District representation or Special Interest Group leadership. They will be able to lead you in the direction that best fulfills your needs. You can also contact the APTA Pennsylvania Office to direct you.

I want to become a PT. Should I become a PT?

You may first want to answer, “Why do I want to become a Physical Therapist?” Some PTAs do continue and obtain a DPT. Comparing what each role plays and what aspect of each of those roles you want to take part in will help you decide. Open communication with the current Physical Therapists you work with is another avenue for information. Find out how to become a PT.

Is the Child Abuse Reporting course a PT requirement?

This is a healthcare provider requirement. Although the PA State Board of Physical Therapy is the appropriate resource to answer your licensure renewal questions, the APTA Pennsylvania has compiled a list of Licensure Renewal Information to review. This page also provides a link to the free course hosted by the University of Pittsburgh. Review the list of other courses you can attend. The CEU credits received completing this course are included in the required 30 CE for license renewal. Read the General PA State Board information and to access the list of approved continuing education courses.

Can a CPR certification count toward the 4 CEUs for Recognizing and Responding to Health Care Emergencies?

A CPR card will fulfill the 4 CEU requirements in this category. The certification must be received through the American Red Cross, American Heart Association or the American Safety and Health Institute. 

Are the ethics, child abuse, and CPR credits included in the 30 CEU required for license renewal?

Yes, they are included - learn more. Please follow this link for the PA Physical Therapy State Board for continuing education requirements. If you have further questions, you may contact the state board for clarification. 

Where can I find mental health resources?

APTA Pennsylvania has gathered information from each county in PA for easy access to Mental Health & Wellness resources.

I am having issues with substance abuse. Can I find help before it gets out of hand?  

Yes. Pennsylvania offers a Volunteer Recovery Program for licensed care providers.