Physical Therapist Assistant Program


The Northwest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Program is designed to prepare students to perform as entry-level PTAs. Under the supervision of a physical therapist, entry level PTAs provide rehabilitative care with simple or complex patients to optimize an individual's level of function after an injury or illness. The student is prepared to work as an entry-level PTA in a variety of clinical environments including outpatient facilities, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools and home health. The PTA Program includes two semesters of prerequisite course work followed by admission to the PTA Program for three semesters of technical and clinical physical therapy courses. Successful completion of the PTA Program leads to an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Degree making the student eligible to sit for the National Physical Therapist Assistant Examination (NPTAE). The student must pass the NPTAE to receive a license to practice in the state of Arkansas. Those students wishing to practice in other states should contact the state regulating board of physical therapy for that state to obtain their requirements.


PTA Program Mission: To provide a sound, quality education that will provide the graduate with the necessary entry-level skills to become a competent PTA.

Curricular Philosophy: The NWACC PTA Program curriculum philosophy is designed to support the general educational outcomes for an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree and to provide students with a variety of integrative, progressive learning experiences which include didactic, on & off site laboratory, and clinic educational experiences. The emphasis of these learning experiences is to develop PTAs who under the supervision of the physical therapist and within the physical therapy plan of care are technically competent in patient intervention, patient problem solving and judgment, patient assessment, clinical communication and professionalism.


Goals: The NWACC PTA Program Goals are:

1. to prepare entry-level PTAs as indicated by the Terminal Competencies,

2. to prepare the graduates to pass the NPTAE allowing for state licensure to practice as a PTA, and

3. to maintain PTA Program accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

Terminal Competencies: At the completion of the PTA Program the student is expected to demonstrate entry-level performance in the following areas:

  • Performs in a safe manner that minimizes risk to patient, self and others.
  • Conducts self in a responsible manner.
  • Interacts with others in a respectful manner.
  • Adheres to ethical standards.
  • Adheres to legal standards.
  • Communicates in ways that are congruent with situational needs.
  • Produces documentation to support the delivery of physical therapy services.
  • Delivers established patient care to reflect respect for and sensitivity to individual differences.
  • Participates in patient status judgments within the clinical environment based on the plan of care established by the physical therapist.
  • Obtains accurate information by performing selected data collection consistent with the plan of care established by the physical therapist.
  • Discusses the need for modification to the plan of care established by the physical therapist.
  • Performs physical therapy interventions in a technically competent manner.
  • Educates others (patients, family, caregivers, staff, students, other health care providers) using relevant and effective teaching methods.
  • Participates in activities addressing quality of service delivery.
  • Participates in addressing patient needs for services other than physical therapy.
  • Manages resources (e.g., time, space, and equipment) to achieve goals of the clinical setting.
  • Participates in fiscal management of the physical therapy clinical setting.
  • Uses physical therapy aides and other support personnel according to legal standards and ethical guidelines.
  • Implements a self-directed plan for career development and lifelong learning.
  • Assists the physical therapist in addressing primary and secondary prevention needs of individuals and groups.


Physical Therapist Assistant Clinical Performance Instrument

American Physical Therapy Association

March 1998


The NWACC PTA Program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). CAPTE may be contacted at:


1111 North Fairfax Street

Alexandria, VA 22314

(703) 706-3245


Job Responsibilities: The PTA is an educated health care provider who assists the physical therapist in the provision of physical therapy including physical therapy procedures, patient assessment, and related tasks. Under the supervision of a physical therapist the tasks performed by the PTA may include but are not limited to effectively communicating through listening, speaking, reading & writing in English with a variety of patients, assessing patient progress, gathering patient information, performing data collection of muscle strength and patient function, taking vital signs, patient transfer and gait training, manipulation of exercise equipment, exercise instruction, application of various modalities, patient handling and facilitation skills, palpation, and wound care. The PTA may practice in a variety of settings including hospitals, outpatient clinics, home health, schools, research centers, industry, wellness & fitness centers, skilled nursing facilities, and long-term care.

ATTENTION: Students planning to apply to the PTA Program pleasse note the following requirement. Physician Certification of the applicants ability to perform the PTA Essential Functions and Physical Demands will be required in the PTA program Application.

PTA Essential Functions and Physical Demands: In order to successfully perform the job of a PTA, the following are required:

  • Skills: oral comprehension, oral expression, speech clarity, problem sensitivity, speech recognition, deductive reasoning, information ordering, written comprehension, static strength (ability to exert maximum muscle force to lift, push, pull or carry objects) and flexibility (the ability to bend, stretch, twist or reach with your body, arms &/or legs),
  • Physical abilities include: standing, walking, sitting, lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, and/or hand function. and
  • Strength classification is Medium Work: Exerting 20 to 50 pounds of force occasionally, and/or 10 to 25 pounds of force frequently, and/or greater than negligible up to 10 pounds of force constantly to move objects.


NWACC strives to provide reasonable accommodation as necessary to allow a PTA student to be successful. If you feel you would need accommodation, please contact the Office of disAbility Services in the Life Development Center or 479-619-4384.

Students with disabilities who have formally declared their disability with the Office of disAbility Services, and who would like accommodations are encouraged to make an appointment with the course instructor as soon as possible for each class as indicated.

Dictionary of Occupational Titles. Available at: Accessed October 16, 2006.

Occupational Information Network at: Accessed October 16, 2006.

NWACC PTA Program Information & Statistics:

Pass Rate on Licensure Exam:

The NWACC PTA Program has a 100% pass rate for graduates taking the National Physical Therapist Assistant Examination (NPTAE) since 2000. Graduates of all accredited PTA Programs must pass the NPTAE to become licensed to practice.

The national average pass rate for first time test takers of graduates of accredited PTA Programs is approximately 75%.

The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) develops and administers the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTAE) for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants. All 50 states and 3 additional jurisdictions use the NPTAE as one factor in the licensure or certification of physical therapist assistants. Accessed June 14, 2007

Graduation Rate

The three year average graduation rate for graduates from 2011, 2012, 2013 was 74%. These graduation rates include both students who withdrew from the PTA Program for personal reasons and students who were dismissed from the program subject to their right to appeal for failure to meet the academic requirements.

Employment Rate

96% employment rate for 3 years

Number of Students Admitted to the NWACC PTA Program:

The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) limits the number of qualified applicants the NWACC PTA Program can admit per year to a maximum of 18 students.

For more information about becoming a PT or PTA contact:

Sammi Eddie, PTA
PTA Program Director
Room 2442
(479) 619-4253


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