PTA Program Information

Role of the PTA

The physical therapist assistant (PTA) works with and under the direction and supervision of the physical therapist in a wide variety of health care settings.  These settings include hospitals, private offices, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, schools, fitness centers, and home care settings.

PTs/PTAs provide a wide variety of physical therapy services to people of all ages who have limitations in their ability to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives, due to medical problems or other health-related conditions.  The PT/PTA relationship is one in which the PT provides supervision and role modeling with an emphasis of continual communication.  The physical therapist evaluates the patient/client and establishes a plan of care in which selected interventions are designated.  These interventions are applied and progressed by the physical therapist assistant.  Through on-going monitoring and data collection of patient/client responses, the PTA recognizes if and when treatments should not be administered secondary to the patient/client status or condition and thus communicates same to the PT.  Moreover, the PTA must possess the ability to distinguish whether an intervention procedure is outside of his/her scope of practice and will pursue clarification with the physical therapist.

Potential interventions provided by a PTA may include training techniques and education to improve strength, coordination, and balance; exercises to improve activities of daily living and mobility, for example, walking with devices such as crutches, walkers or canes; manual techniques to reduce pain and increase range of motion; the use of modalities or physical agents and various forms of electrical stimulation.  Intervention is not limited to the application of physical treatment alternatives, but the PTA also affords education to patients/ clients, family members, caregivers and other health care professionals including PTA students.

The PTA relates information with regard to treatments, responses, education, and billing in the form of verbal and/or non-verbal communication and documentation.

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Certification/Licensure of the PTA

Individual states have different policies/codes concerning the requirements that will permit an individual to practice as a physical therapist assistant. For information about licensure/certification, a student will have to contact the various state boards of medical examiners in order to receive specific information for a particular state. Please contact the Department Chairperson for the addresses of the various state boards of medical examiners.

Upon initiating the application to New York State Department of Education for Certification Form 1, Questions 10 through 14 are directed at determining a candidate's moral character. The New York State Department of Education maintains the right to both determine and provide an appeal process of the determination of good moral character.

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The Field of Physical Therapy

The field of Physical Therapy is an exciting field in which graduates have the opportunity to assist clients of all ages in improving their health, well-being, and function. Physical Therapists (PT's) and Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs) practice in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, nursing homes, private practice, home care settings, schools, and industrial facilities. State laws vary regarding the scope of practice in Physical Therapy; however, the PTA must always work under the direction and supervision of the PT.

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Orange County Community College is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. The Physical Therapist Assistant Department admitted its first class in 1975 and received initial accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education in 1977. Recent accreditation was granted in 2008 with the next CAPTE visit scheduled in 2018. The program has maintained its accreditation status since 1977.

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Scholarship Gift Opportunities

There are two scholarship funds and one memorial fund which are offered exclusively to our Physical Therapist Assistant students. Contributions may be made by indicating the name of the fund (see listings below) and making check payable to "Educational Foundation of Orange County Community College, Inc." Mail check to: Educational Foundation-Vincent Cazzetta, Orange County Community College, 115 South Street, Middletown, NY 10940.

  • Excellence in Physical Therapy Scholarship Fund (James Spinks): awarded annually to a full- or part-time, returning/continuing student in the Physical Therapist Assistant program
  • The Roberta Bernstein Scholarship Fund: awarded annually to a returning/continuing student in the Physical Therapist Assistant program who demonstrates financial need
  • Floyd Hood Memorial Physical Therapy Scholarship: awarded annually to a full- or part-time, returning/continuing student in the Physical Therapist Assistant program
  • James Thomas Holmbraker Memorial Scholarship: established through the generosity of SUNY Orange colleague Steve Holmbraker, awarded annually to a full-time, returning/continuing student, merit based, in International Studies or Physical Therapist Assistant
  • Dr. Karen Stephens PTA Scholarship: established in honor of Dr. Karen Stephens, retired Physical Therapist Assistant program faculty member and college leader; awarded annually to a full-time, returning/continuing student, who is starting the second-year of the PTA program, with an overall GPA of 3.0; preference given to a single parent
  • Mulhare Family Scholarship: established in honor of the marriage of Laura Mulhare and John Burkhalter, for a full- or part-time, returning/continuing student in the Physical Therapist Assistant program

All gifts are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowable by law.

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PTA Links

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