A career as a Physical therapist assistant (PTAs) can be a very wise choice for individuals who wish to find employment in a career that is both well-compensated and personally rewarding.
However, as a licensed medical professional, a PTA will be expected to complete a rigorous course of study that will prepare him or her both for the National Physical Therapist Examination (NPTE) and for a later career as a licensed PTA.
In general, individuals who have completed all of their prerequisites will be expected to complete the program over the course of a single year if they are full-time students.
In other cases, part-time or distance learning students may have a different schedule that will result in them taking longer to complete the program.
However, regardless of the student’s schedule, the subject matter covered will remain the same.
Preparing for PTA Program Classes
Even before entering a program, the student can take measures to ensure that he or she is able to effectively participate in those courses mandated by the program.
Focusing on math and science subjects when completing high school or any college prerequisites mandated by the PTA program can help prepare the student to better complete the courses he or she will be taking.
In addition, the student should focus on developing effective study and work habits.
A PTA program requires intense and effective study, both in terms of mastering academic information and in terms of being able to understand and follow instructions given by the instructor, especially when the student is carrying out work in a clinical setting.
The ability to make effective use of time is vital for those students who hope to succeed in this field and it is wise to develop those skills before entering the program.
The Most Difficult PTA Classes
Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine which classes will be difficult for any given student. Because individual skills and interests can vary so greatly, a class that one student finds quite simple may be a serious challenge for another student.
However, some courses do have a reputation for being very difficult for all of their participants. Those classes most commonly include the following:
• Anatomy and Physiology for Visceral Structures
• Clinical Instruction.
It should be noted that some programs might use different terminology to identify the course subject. However, the material covered in these courses is universal to all PTA training programs.
Furthermore, many courses build upon each other, so a difficulty in effectively mastering the subject matter of one course may soon impact the student’s performance over the rest of the program.
Pathophysiology covers the study of the changes that can occur in the body tissue of patients due to diseases, including acute and chronic illnesses.
Focusing on the damage these diseases can do to the musculoskeletal, immune and nervous systems, this is a complex course that requires a great deal of understanding of the human body.
For this reason, it is imperative that individuals taking this advanced course be fully conversant in all aspects of their earlier education. In addition, due to the complexity of the course, many students will require extra assistance in order to complete their coursework.
Pharmacology is the study of the various types of medications that a PTA may use or come into contact with during his or her career. This class is highly detail oriented and demands a great deal of memorization on the part of the student.
A PTA must be able to quickly determine what medications his or her patient is using and in some cases administer medications under the direction of a qualified medical professional.
This is especially important due to the fact that incorrectly administered medications can have serious consequences to the patient.
Because allergic reactions or negative drug interactions may occur quickly, the PTA must be able to quickly note any unusual symptoms and accurately relay them to a nurse or physician.
Anatomy and Physiology for Visceral Structures
Physical therapy requires that the practitioner have a complete understanding of the patient’s body.
This course focuses on studying the function and structure of the endocrine, immune, circulatory, digestive, respiratory, excretory, and reproductive systems.
It is especially important to understand how these systems relate to the practice of physical therapy.
Because the subject matter of this course covers a wide range of material, this class can be extremely difficult and requires a great deal of study on the part of the student. However, without mastering the subject matter, the student will find it difficult or impossible to complete the rest of his or her program.
Clinical courses involve the student working in an active clinical setting, under the direction of working medical professionals.
These courses can be very difficult due to the need to use everything the student has previously learned. In addition, because the student is dealing with actual patients, he or she will find it necessary to develop an effective relationship with the patient.
In addition to the need to effectively use all of his or her skills, the student may find the stress of working under the supervision of his or her instructors a serious obstacle.
However, this course can be considered the capstone course of the PTA program, in that it prepares the student to face the NPTE after his or her graduation from the program.
While becoming a PTA can be very difficult, individuals should not be discouraged by that fact.
In truth, effective study habits, hard work and a willingness to seek assistance when it is needed can ensure that the student will soon find him or herself becoming a licensed PTA and entering a field that is both personally and professionally rewarding.