How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in Louisiana – LA
Steps to Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in Louisiana
Physical therapy assistants in Louisiana must hold an Associate’s degree from an accredited training program. Most of these programs split coursework between general classes and medical/healthcare focused classes with a total of 40 – 60 hours required to complete the two-year degree. These courses are offered at community colleges and provide not only classroom learning but a number of clinical rotations that let students roll up their sleeves and learn the practical techniques necessary to becoming a PTA.
These programs, like full-scale medical schools, are very competitive. One community college, for example, has a student body of over 5,400 students and just 20 students are admitted to the PTA school each year. Admission into these programs typically includes completion of certain prerequisite courses, proof that you’ve observed a certain number (often as many as 40) hours of hands-on physical therapy, and sometimes even an on-site interview.
Tuition at these schools range from about $2,000 - $4,000 for in-state students and $6,500 - $9,000 for out-of state students. Some also include a $500 fee to support clinical rotation costs. Pell grants and other financial aid are available at most of these community colleges.
Taking the Exam
Before you graduate, you must take and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination for the Physical Therapist Assistant. This is exam (which costs $370 to take) will test for competency and preparedness for an entry-level PTA position. The NPTE website (https://pt.fsbpt.net/) is full of terrific resources to prepare students for the exam, to register for the tests and so on. Downloadable materials, study guides and online registration can be found at the NPTEPTA website.
Upon completion of your coursework, you will need to seek licensure before you can begin to practice physical therapy in the state.
All licenses are awarded by the Louisiana State Board of Physical Therapy Examiners. There is quite a list of requirements for obtaining licensure, which is available on the Board site at: http://www.laptboard.org/rules/rulesandregs/. Among the requirements, candidates must:
- Be at least 19 years old
- Be legal to work in the United States
- Have paid the requisite fee ($200 for application)
- Have completed an Associates degree from an American Physical Therapy Association accredited program
- Have taken and passed the Board administered exam (see above)
- Be of good moral character
Once you’re sure you meet these guidelines you must send the following to the state board:
- Your test results
- Two recent photographs
- The name of the physical therapist under whom you studied or will practice
- A completed application (available at the link above)
Candidates who studied or practiced abroad or who seek to be licensed by reciprocity can find details about how to do so at the Rules and Regulations link above.
A few things to remember: If you leave out any part of the application, the board can deny your license and you’ll need to reapply and pay a new fee. Also, something unique to Louisiana is the requirement that you meet in person before the board. This meeting is made by appointment only.