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    Walters State Community College
  Feb 21, 2018
2009-10 Catalog and Student Handbook [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physical Therapist Assistant, A.A.S. (Physical Therapist Assistant)

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Degree: Associate of Applied Science

Emphasis: Physical Therapist Assistant

The Physical Therapist Assistant program prepares students to apply to take the National Physical Therapist Assistant Examination. A Physical Therapist Assistant can perform a range of physical therapy procedures specific to a patient’s diagnosis under the supervision of a physical therapist. As a Physical Therapist Assistant, you will have the opportunity to work with a wide variety of patients, from pediatrics to the older adult and every age and functional level in between. Obtaining a passing score on the national examination is required to practice as a physical therapist assistant in the state of Tennessee. The primary goal of physical therapy is to rehabilitate patients suffering from various diagnoses that affect their mobility and overall functional status. The Physical Therapist Assistant provides specifically prescribed treatments and exercises that improve one’s mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or limit physical disability. In addition, Physical Therapist Assistants help restore, maintain and promote overall fitness and health. Physical Therapist Assistants may find employment in many diverse settings, such as hospitals, outpatient clinics, private physical therapy practices, home health agencies, rehabilitation facilities, schools, and long term care facilities. At this time there are numerous job opportunities for the PTA nationwide.

This program is designed for the student who does not intend to transfer to a baccalaureate degree program.

Legal Limitation for Licensure

Graduates of the program will be eligible to apply to take the National Examination to become a licensed physical therapist assistant. Obtaining a passing score on the national examination is required to practice as a physical therapist assistant in the state of Tennessee. Physical therapist assistants may not practice unless under the supervision of a physical therapist. This program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.

PTA General Admission Requirements

Any student desiring to pursue an associate degree in Physical Therapist Assistant Technology must:

  1. Apply, meet admission requirements, and be accepted by Walters State Community College.
  2. Indicate Pre-Physical Therapist Assistant as the desired major on the WSCC application form.
  3. Follow college policy for advising prior to registration.
  4. Complete all required developmental courses.
  5. Successfully complete BIOL 2010 and 2011, BIOL 2020 and 2021, and MATH 1530 or 1630 no later than the end of spring semester of the year the student elects to participate in the selection process for fall semester PTA class. A grade of “C” or better must be achieved in each required science course, with an overall GPA of at least 2.0. Biological science courses previously taken must have been completed within the last 10 years.
  6. General education requirements are ENGL 1010, PSYC 2420, and HUMANITIES/FINE ARTS ELECTIVE. These courses may be taken after acceptance into the program, but must be completed prior to the spring semester the student intends to graduate. However, it is highly recommended that all general education requirements be completed no later than the end of the spring semester of the year the student makes application to the PTA program.
  7. The college requires all degree-seeking students to demonstrate computer competency either by passing an examination or by successfully completing a designated computer course. Students are required to meet computer competency during the first 30 hours of coursework.
  8. Completion of a minimum of 20 hours observation in a physical therapy practice or employment in a physical therapy practice equivalent to three months of full-time hours. This observation must be under the supervision of a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant. Observation and Employment evaluation forms are located on the Physical Therapist Assistant website at: Observation and Employment evaluation forms should arrive at Walters State by April 15.
  9. Students cannot audit any PTA courses without the approval of the department director and the dean of Health Programs.

Physical Therapist Assistant Program Application Requirements:

  • Complete prerequisites, general education requirements and required observation hours
  • Maintain an overall 2.0 GPA (excluding developmental courses)
  • Complete and return to the director of the PTA program a “Physical Therapist Assistant Application”.
  • Application must be received by the health programs department no later than April 15 of the year the student elects to participate in the selection process for the fall semester PTA class.

Selection to the Physical Therapist Assistant Program

  1. Selection of each class will be made by the Admissions Committee whose membership consists of:
    1. Physical Therapist Assistant Program Director
    2. Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education for the PTA program
    3. Faculty for the PTA program
    4. Dean of Health Programs (ex officio)
    5. Vice President for Academic Affairs (ex officio)
  2. The Admission Committee will rank each student on the basis of predetermined criteria. The criteria include but are not limited to:
    • Number of successfully completed credits beyond those required for admission to the PTA program (excluding developmental courses).
    • Overall GPA in all required general education and prerequisite courses.
    • Observation/employment experience - minimum of 20 observation hours, an additional ranking proing will be assigned for 10 additional hours of observation in a different type physical therapy setting
    • Evaluation of observation/employment experience
    • Interview conducted by practicing physical therapist and physical therapist assistants.
  3. Transfer students – Individuals who have attended college other than Walters State and desire to transfer into the WSCC PTA program will be considered on an individual basis. Transfer requests should be submitted to the director of the PTA program. A student may be required to audit designated PTA courses. Students who have failed in another physical therapist assistant program (or other health care career program) must disclose this in the PTA program admissions packet.
  4. Basic science courses over 10 years old, or specific PTA courses over 5 years old may not be eligible for selection criteria. Students who are transferring kinesiology from another institution and who are admitted into the program will be required to complete additional assignments/courses during the fall semester in the program.
  5. Students selected to the program for the fall semester will be notified in writing by July 15.
  6. Students notified of admission into the Physical Therapist Assistant Program must return the Information Packet for New Admitts by the date specified on the form: (a) sign, date and return an acknowledgment of the Drug/Alcohol Abuse Policy and Consent form; and (b) a comprehensive health examination at student expense by a physician with required lab tests and immunizations or records of immunizations. Students who do not respond or who do not plan to attend will have their positions filled by other applicants based on the criteria rankings.
  7. Students not selected for admission may reapply for a subsequent class.
  8. Contact the director of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program for additional information, 423-585-6981 or in TECH 104 on the Morristown campus.

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program accepts approximately 20 new students each fall semester. The number of students accepted into the program is limited. Programs with limited enrollment such as the PTA program cannot accept out-of-state residents if there are Tennessee residents eligible for admission. Contact the Director of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program for further information.

Progression/Retention Policies

To remain in good standing once admitted to the PTA program, the student must:

  1. Adhere to all WSCC, PTA program, and clinical agencies policies.
  2. Earn a “C” or better in each PTA course and maintain a 2.0 GPA overall.
  3. Satisfactorily complete the theory, clinical and skills requirements of each PTA course, including exhibiting safe and competent clinical behavior as defined by written criteria given to each PTA student. A grade of “F” in any course will deny the student the ability to continue in the program.
  4. Demonstrate professional, ethical, and legal conduct.
  5. Maintain professional liability insurance.
  6. Maintain current Basic Life Support (BLS) or CPR/AED for Healthcare Providers.
  7. Successfully complete any general education requirements for graduation prior to the beginning of the final semester of the PTA programs, including computer competency.
  8. Submit to a drug test if requested by the Dean of Health Programs or director of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program at any time during the program. A positive drug test is grounds for immediate dismissal.
  9. Individuals who have been convicted of crimes other than minor traffic violations could be ineligible for physical therapist assistant licensure in the State of Tennessee, even though they have successfully completed the Physical Therapist Assistant Program. (See Criminal Background Check Requirement in the Health Programs portion of the catalog.)
  10. Have a yearly comprehensive health examination and submit the required form to the director of the PTA program by the designated date.

Readmission Policies

A student who has earned a “D” or “F” in a physical therapist assistant course or who has withdrawn from the program may apply for readmission under the following considerations:

  1. To be considered for readmission to the PTA program after academic/clinical failure by the end of the first semester, a student will be required to proceed through the regular selection and acceptance procedures along with all other candidates for the following year.
  2. A student who is unsuccessful academically or clinically after the first semester must complete the following: (a) a written request to the PTA program director for consideration of readmission; (b) attend a readmissions committee hearing to be scheduled by the committee. The program director will respond in writing and will provide the student with date, location, and time of readmission hearing.
  3. Procedures for readmission hearings are as follows: (a) The student must confirm the intention to attend by telephone or regular mail a minimum of 3 days prior to the hearing date. If confirmation is not received, the hearing will be canceled; (b) the student should prepare an outline to be presented to the committee on reasons for failure and steps taken by the student to ensure success if readmitted. The student will be informed of the committee’s decision in a timely manner.
  4. Readmission committee is composed of the PTA academic faculty and faculty from other Health Programs (minimum of 3 additional faculty).
  5. First-time students will be given priority in clinical rotation placement. Second-time (readmitted) students will be placed in clinicals when space is available. This may mean a delayed graduation date. Every effort will be made to place all students in clinicals during scheduled times.
  6. If a student is readmitted to the PTA program, auditing of designated PTA courses may be required.
  7. A student must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 to be considered for readmission.
  8. Any student is allowed only two attempts to complete the PTA program. A student who is unsuccessful during a second attempt of the program will not be allowed to re-apply or to have a readmission hearing.

Health and Physical Considerations for Physical Therapist Assistant Students

Because the College seeks to provide in as much as possible a reasonably safe environment for its health career students and their patients, a student may be required during the course of the program, to demonstrate their physical and/or emotional fitness to meet the essential requirements of the program. Such essential requirements may include the ability to perform certain physical tasks, and suitable emotional fitness. Any appraisal measures used to determine such physical and/or emotional fitness will be in compliance with section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, so as not to discriminate against any individual on the basis of disability.

The practicing PTA must be capable of long periods of concentration in selecting correct techniques, equipment and safety measures to assure maximum care and safety of the patient. Therefore, the applicant must be able to exercise independent judgment under both routine and emergency conditions. A person abusing alcohol or conscious altering drugs could not meet these criteria. The following core performance standards have been adopted by the PTA program. Admission to and progression in the PTA program is not based on these standards but should be used to assist the student in determining whether accommodations or modifications are necessary. If a student believes that one or more of the standards cannot be met without accommodation or modification, the physical therapist assistant program will determine whether reasonable accommodations or modifications can be made. The student should contact the Director of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program, and/or the Office of Services for Individuals with Disabilities and Placement Services.

The standards are:

  1. Critical thinking ability sufficient for clinical judgment;
  2. Interpersonal abilities sufficient to interact effectively with individuals, families, and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds;
  3. Communication abilities sufficient for effective interaction with others in verbal and written form;
  4. Physical abilities sufficient to effectively move from room to room and maneuver in small spaces;
  5. Gross and fine motor abilities sufficient to provide safe and effective physical therapy care;
  6. Auditory abilities sufficient to monitor and assess health needs;
  7. Visual ability sufficient for observation and assessment necessary in physical therapy care;
  8. Tactile ability sufficient for accurate physical assessment.

Students are strongly encouraged to carry a personal health insurance policy, which is required by a majority of clinical affiliation sites. Completion of this program does not guarantee employment. The applicant should realize relocation may be necessary in order to obtain employment.

General Education Requirements (20 hours)

Total Credit Hours 66

1 General Education electives in each category must be chosen from approved courses listed in the General Education Program .

2 These courses are prerequisites for the Physical Therapist Assistant program.


  • Students are required to meet computer competency during the first 30 hours of coursework. For additional information, visit and click on the “computer competency” page.
  • Developmental education courses must be taken every semester until completed.
  • See criminal background check requirement statement in Health Programs .

Programs with limited enrollment give priority to permanent Tennessee residents eligible for admission, then eligible U.S. citizens who are out-of-state residents, and then to eligible international students. The applicant must meet WSCC general education and developmental education requirements.

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