FAQs

What does a PTA do?
What kind of degree does a PTA earn?
What if I apply but don't get into the PTA program?
How are applicants chosen to be in the PTA program?
Are there extra financial burdens associated with the PTA program?
How does the PTA program address formal complaints?
What is the BYU-Idaho PTA program's contingency plan for students if the physical therapist assistant program should fail to achieve candidate status or accreditation status?

What does a PTA do?

A Physical Therapist Assistant or PTA is a health care professional who works directly under the supervision of a Physical Therapist.  A PTA is not the one that evaluates a patient and is not the one that generally has first contact with a patient.  A PTA often joins in on the care of a patient when a rehabilitation plan has been established and the patient needs a professional to guide them through their activities.  PTAs are trained in most all of the therapy strategies that are current in the field.  PTAs can specialize over time in specific rehabilitiation skills.  PTA are valued for their great interpersonal skills and hands on abilities that allows them to assist patients towards their rehabilitative goals.  You can learn more about what a PTA does by visiting the following URL:

http://www.apta.org/PTACareers/Overview/

What kind of degree does a PTA earn?

PTAs generally earn an associates degree.  Here at BYU-Idaho, the degree is an applied science associates degree (A.A.S.).  This degree requires coursework to learn fundamental knolwedge in human health and disease as well as a lot of training in physical therapy strategies that affect almost every system of the body.  Students earning this degree will take some interdiciplinary foundations classes that will hone skills in basic college math, and writting. Also, here at BYU-I, students will be required to take foundations of religion coursework that will support the mission of the univeristy to build testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and encourage living its principles. The A.A.S. degree at BYU-I does NOT include enough course work to transfer as an academic degree that fulfills general education requirements in other universities.  If a student transfers with an A.A.S. degree, they may find that their PTA coursework does not transfer and they may find that they have several more general education courses to complete at there new university.  

However, at BYU-Idaho, the PTA coursework can count towards a large variety of bachelors degrees.  The Academic Discovery Center can help students discern the best way to martriculate PTA course work into a bachelors degree.  

What if I apply but don't get into the PTA program?

We know that only a portion of the students who apply will be able to be able to join a PTA cohort and enroll in the program.  Luckily, we have carefully selected pre-requisite courses that will easily transfer to other bachelors degrees on campus.  The pre-requisite courses include foundations courses that are required for nearly all degrees on campus.  
The pre-requisite courses also include Bio 264 and Bio 265, which are required for several health science and exercise science degrees. Also, with the new interdisciplinary options on campus, it is not impossible for a student to use the Bio 264/265 courses in degrees not specifically found in the health or exercise science departments. We recommend that students seek advising for all these options in the Academic Discovery Center.  It is usually best to make yourself aware of these options as soon as possible. It would be best to have a plan "B" in place, just in case the PTA program does not work out for you.  

How are applicants chosen to be in the PTA program?

The PTA program has some very challenging coursework.  The physical therapist assistant graduate is a health care professional who must have a license to practice in most states.  The national licensure examination requires students to have a very solid background in their course work.  There appears to be a strong correlation between GPA and success in PTA programs.  Performance in pre-requisite classes is an excellent measure to use as we try to select students who can be successful in the PTA program.  Therefore, pre-requisite GPA will carry a lot of weight as we select candidates.  

However, although GPA will be a major factor in the acceptance decisions, letters of recommendation will be given some value as well.  Finally, because a major goal of the program is to graduate PTA students who intend to work in the field, we will give some extra consideration to any student who can demonstarte that an employer has made a hiring promise or fincancial investment to their education. This is usually a letter of intent to hire or a document that shows financial investment that requires a promise to work for the employer for a stated time after graduation.  

Are there extra financial burdens associated with the PTA program?

BYU-Idaho Physical Therapist Assistant students pay the same tuition and may qualify for financial aid just like any other University student.  Financial Aid options are explained on our Financial Aid Website.  Students are encouraged to explore this site carefully. 

http://www.byui.edu/financial-aid

However, the PTA program does require students to incur costs beyond the normal costs of tuition and books. Below is an explanation of extra costs that a student should expect when they are admitted and agree to participate in the BYU-Idaho physical therapist assistant program.  

  1. Students who apply and are enrolled in a cohort of the second year of our 1+1 program, must complete 2 semesters of classroom course work and 2 clinical externships.  There is no formal "off-track" during this time.  Clinical externships earn academic credit and students must pay for these credits the same as any other coursework on campus.  Clinical externships run 7 weeks in length (40 hours per week).  This means that a student must complete a total of 14 weeks (1120 hours) of clinical training. Students get valuable and necessary hands on experience in these clinical courses.  However, students are required to fund their own travel, housing and living expenses at these externships.  Externships are complicated to arrange.  Clinical site owners and staff members are asked to train you in an apprenticeship style experience.  This often means that the clinical site owners and staff must decrease their own load and revenue to help you.  In order to avoid overwhelming local clinical sites with these requests, we develop contract opportunities all over the country.  We will assign students by luck of the draw to attend one of our viable and current contracted externship sites.    

  2. The following cannot be stressed enough:  Students should be prepared to fund the travel and living expense of an externship anywhere in the United States.  Students who cannot leave the area for any reason should avoid applying to the program as the inability to complete a clinical externship will void your opportunity to complete the PTA program and sit for the national licensure exam.  

  3. Many of our contracted externship sites have requirements for students that will require even more extra costs.  These requirements include (but are not limited to) background checks, specific immunizations, uniforms, drug screening, and first aid /  CPR certification.  Students must bear the cost of any of these extra requirements. 

  4. Some courses in the PTA program have fees associated with them.  These fees are used to cover expenses such as lotions, gels, electrodes, laundry, name tags, and other incidentals that arise in the training curriculum. We take every opportunity to avoid unnecessary costs to students.  However, due to the training requirements explained above, the PTA program will certainly have extra costs compared to other degree opportunities on campus.   

How does the PTA program address formal complaints?

If you are a current PTA program student or faculty member, then please refer to the grievance section in the PTA student or faculty handbook. If you do not have access to the handbook, please contact the PTA program director. For all other parties, please contact the program director. The program director contact information is located in the "Contact Us" web page found on the menu to the left.

What is the BYU-Idaho PTA program's contingency plan for students if the physical therapist assistant program should fail to achieve candidate status or accreditation status?

If candidacy is not achieved on the first attempt, we plan to remediate any deficiencies. Once deficiencies have been addressed then we plan to re-apply for candidacy on the next available cycle. In the interim, students will continue to pursue the Associate's or Bachelor’s degree that they are working toward and then apply to the PTA program once candidacy is achieved. Accreditation: If full accreditation status is not initially achieved, we plan to remediate any deficiencies. After program deficiencies have been addressed according to CAPTE’s standards, we will have the first cohort of students finish the program and graduate. Graduation would most likely be delayed in this case.