An analysis of the physical therapist assistant education and the implications degree progression would have on existing programs in Kansas

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Gower, Michelle Lynn
Washburn University
Issue Date
December 2016
Alternative Title
The field of physical therapy has seen significant change over the years with the continuously evolving health care system. The increase in knowledge and responsibilities required by physical therapists has led to the progression of education requirements to a doctoral degree for entry-level practice. Physical therapist assistants have not seen a similar elevation in education, and degree requirements remain at the associate level. Limitations on the PTA program length hinder the addition of informational material. Many program directors feel the current time constraints create a challenge to complete the education standards. Progressing educational requirements to a baccalaureate level may be challenging with many of the current programs located in community colleges. A discussion on the community college baccalaureate degree and articulation agreements will serve as a potential solution to facilitate degree progression. An analysis of the current PTA program curriculum at Washburn University will lead to recommendations for curricular expansion for degree progression. Utilizing the respiratory therapy program as a model for the transition of degree requirements from an associate's degree to a baccalaureate, recommendations will be made to guide the conversion of the PTA program to the baccalaureate level. Reviewing the course work requirements in DPT education will serve as a guide to enhance the foundational knowledge delivered in PTA education.