PTAs, Transcripts and Skills
Do our transcripts reflect what we know and how we deliver our skills or are they just one way to measure our success with test-taking and rote memory? Several years ago, I met an ATC who challenged the PTA exam. He told me he was a great test-taker and that was why he succeeded at the challenge. Admittedly, he told me he did not know everything there was about being a PTA but the state board thought so and granted him a license. I have also met some PTAs who were aides that challenged the PTA exam successfully. Although in these instances they never attended PTA school, we all ended up with the same license to practice. Can anyone tell who the better practitioner is?
Rightfully so, I would like to say that I am because I went to school to attain my license. However, I have met some PTAs who went to school and they should not have been licensed by the state. I have also met some excellent aides who would make great assistants but were not able to go to school or challenge the state board.
In California, there are several ways to qualify to take the National Physical Therapist Assistant Examination by Equivalency. One is military training; this requires numerous hours of technical training and clinical supervision and seems to resemble an abbreviated PTA program. Another way is to take a minimum of 30 semester units of technical training in a variety of areas that relate to anatomy and the sciences, be an aide for 36 months with 18 of those months in acute care, and have 15 semester units of general education.
After successful completion of your licensing exam, you will be a PTA with full privileges just like me. However, your license may not be valid in all 50 states. Some states require a PTA to be a graduate of an accredited program before they will extend a license to you.