PTA Program Standards and Requirements

Health & physical requirements

Students need the ability to:

  • Lift and move patients, equipment and accessories (up to 50 pounds);
  • Manipulate treatment equipment and measuring instruments using fine motor skills;
  • Hear audible cues and warnings from patients and equipment;
  • Utilize sense of touch in order to provide patient care, palpate anatomical landmarks, position patients and administer treatments;
  • Teach patients through use of verbal, tactile and demonstrative cues; and
  • Utilize interpersonal skills to handle patients with physical or emotional trauma and to interact with other people in the classroom, lab or clinical setting in a professional manner.


All students admitted to the Physical Therapist Assistant program are required to carry and provide verification of their own personal health insurance.

Technical standards

Graduates of this program, as entry-level physical therapist assistants, will be able to provide safe, effective, high quality services to patients/clients under the direction of the physical therapist. One of the program goals is to meet or exceed the entry level skills necessary for the graduate to assume reasonability for patient care within the physical therapy community. On occasion, PTAs may be required to tolerate physically and mentally taxing workloads. The ability to adapt to changing environments, display flexibility and function effectively under stress are some of the many “intangibles” required to perform as a PTA. In order to satisfy the requirements of the position and those of the program, certain essential functions/generic abilities must be performed in a satisfactory manner.

Generic abilities

Generic abilities are attributes, characteristics or behaviors that are not explicitly part of the profession’s core of knowledge and technical skills but are nevertheless required for success in the profession. Throughout the PTA curriculum, students will self-assess their abilities in these areas using the following as a guideline for self-reflection. Faculty members and clinical instructors will also use the following to provide students feedback and help them achieve personal and professional growth. Ten generic abilities were identified through a study conducted at UW-Madison in 1991-1992:

#1. Commitment to learning
The ability to self-assess, self-correct, and self-direct; to identify needs and sources of learning; and to continually seek new knowledge and understanding.

#2. Interpersonal skills
The ability to interact effectively with patients, families, colleagues, other health care professionals, and the community and to deal effectively with cultural and ethnic diversity issues.

#3. Communication skills
The ability to communicate effectively (i.e., speaking, body language, reading, writing, listening) for varied audiences and purposes.

#4. Effective use of time and resources
The ability to obtain the maximum benefit from a minimum investment of time and resources.

#5. Use of constructive feedback
The ability to identify sources of and seek out feedback and to effectively use and provide feedback for improving personal interaction.

#6. Problem-solving
The ability to recognize and define problems, analyze data, develop and implement solutions, and evaluate outcomes.

#7. Professionalism
The ability to exhibit appropriate professional conduct and represent the profession effectively.

#8. Responsibility
The ability to fulfill commitments and to be accountable for actions and outcomes.

#9. Critical thinking
The ability to question logically; to identify, generate, and evaluate elements of logical argument; to recognize and differentiate facts, illusions, assumptions and hidden assumptions; and to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant.

#10. Stress management
The ability to identify sources of stress and to develop effective coping behaviors.

Special Scheduling

In addition to lecture and lab classes, students will complete 720 hours of clinical experience hours in area health care facilities during the program. Students will be assigned to clinical sites based on need and availability. Students are expected to provide their own transportation to clinical sites, which may be based out of town.

Student Employment

Due to the demands of the full-time PTA program, student employment is not encouraged. However, exceptions may arise. This personal decision should be based on individual performance in the classroom, clinical education sites and personal health.

It is the desire of the PTA faculty that students are successful in the program and that essential learning is not compromised. Students will not be excused from class or clinical assignments for personal work schedules. Students are encouraged to contact the Office of Financial Aid for more information regarding available scholarships and other financial resources.

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