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What Is an Outpatient PTA and How to Become One

What Does a PTA Do in an Outpatient Facility?

A physical therapist assistant (PTA) helps a physical therapist implement a treatment or rehabilitation program. An outpatient PTA provides physical therapy support services in a private practice setting, outpatient clinic, or another facility. You assist patients who come to the facility specifically for treatment but who only stay for the length of their appointment. Your duties as a PTA include helping patients perform exercises, use equipment, stretch, or perform other movements as prescribed by the physical therapist. Your responsibilities often involve setting up equipment for each patient, cleaning the physical therapy area between appointments, and documenting patient progress.

How to Become a PTA in an Outpatitient Facility

The qualifications you need to work as a PTA in an outpatient facility include a degree and the skills to work with patients in a rehab setting. Almost all states require that PTAs obtain a license or earn certification. In most places, the licensing process involves getting an associate degree in physical therapy and passing the National Physical Therapy Exam. Degree programs for PTAs typically last for two years. After graduation, you take the licensing exam from the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. New PTAs usually gain experience through internships or on-the-job training.