Physical Therapist Assistant

Program Mission

logo Physical Therapist Assistant Program Students
The Spokane Falls Community College Physical Therapist Assistant Program is committed to providing excellence in educational and clinical experiences to enable the student to develop skills necessary for successful employment within the spectrum of care and varied scope of physical therapy practice. The program will strive to graduate caring and compassionate individuals who will provide physical therapy services ethically within the standards of practice under the guidance and supervision of physical therapists, and who will be able to respond appropriately within the ever-changing environment of health care.


Date of Initial Accreditation: May, 1997
Accredited December 31, 2011 - December 21, 2021

Spokane Falls Community College Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Spokane Falls Community College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

Address:   1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Phone: (703) 706-3245
email: accreditation@apta.org
Website: www.capteonline.org

Degrees/Certificates Offered

Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Physical Therapist Assistant

Program Philosophy

Asceptic technique and students giving the thumbs up!

It is the vision of Spokane Falls Community College to foster the love and pursuit of knowledge and truth while offering students the means to achieve personal fulfillment and resources for living responsibly as members of the world community. It is in support of this vision that the Physical Therapist Assistant Program will strive to present each student with the educational opportunities required to become a valuable and contributing member of the health care team. It is the intent of the program to provide a broad range of educational experiences that will enable the graduate to have the skills and knowledge of an entry-level physical therapist assistant capable of working in the variety of clinical settings that provide physical therapy services. The curriculum will reflect a clinical focus in learning experiences and the development of skills commensurate with current standards of practice. The program will promote the learning and provision of quality patient care and instill a commitment to life-long learning and excellence in the practice of health care.

Prior to entry into this educational program, the student will demonstrate academic competence and an understanding of the scope of the profession of physical therapy. The procedures applied in student selection, evaluation, and retention will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, or marital status. The faculty recognizes the student as an adult learner and as such expects the student to take responsibility for their own learning experience. Further, the student will be treated as a colleague and expected to demonstrate professional characteristics that include honesty, dedication, preparedness, understanding, and a respect for the rights and dignity of others.

The faculty will challenge the student for excellence and provide support to ensure success. Through community involvement, the faculty will promote the appropriate utilization of skilled physical therapist assistants. In collaboration with the therapy community, the faculty makes a commitment to a dynamic process of providing curriculum development, clinical education, and an ongoing review of the program’s philosophy, goals, and objectives.

It is beyond the scope and purpose of this program to prepare students for entrance into a professional physical therapist educational program. It is the responsibility of a physical therapist assistant to seek professional development and growth opportunities and it is the individual’s obligation to uphold the dignity and honor of the profession through one’s thoughts, words, and actions.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon graduation from the physical therapist assistant program, the student will be prepared to:
  1. Sit for the Physical Therapist Assistant National Licensure Exam
  2. Perform physical therapy in a variety of patient care settings under the supervision of a physical therapist (PT)

  3. Obtain employment as a health care professional

  4. Demonstrate professional behaviors including responsibility, compassion, respect, effective communication and ethical standards

Program Outcomes

Graduates of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program are expected to meet the following criteria:
  1. Recognize and practice within ethical standards

  2. Understand theory and principles as a foundation for implementing treatment plans

  3. Provide appropriate, effective and quality patient care within the scope of physical therapy practice and the scope of PTA boundaries

  4. Deliver therapy services in a caring and compassionate way

  5. Recognize differing value systems and show a respect for those differences in patients/families

  6. Understand the values of the profession and make a commitment to life-long learning and development of professional abilities

  7. Communicate effectively with persons of diverse levels of understanding, and provide accurate documentation and written communication

  8. Function as a team member and participate effectively in the team process

  9. Demonstrate independent analytical and critical thinking skills, capable of appropriate decision making

  10. Respond to changes in health care delivery systems and recognize the PTA’s role in effective use of resources and prioritizing services

Student Outcomes

Year of Graduation Number of Applications Received Total Number of Applicants Accepted (1) Number of Students Matriculated (2) Graduation Rate Licensure Exam Pass Rate (3) Percent of Graduates Employed Within 6 Months Average Hourly Income at 6 Months (4)
2012 85 18 16 93.7% 100% 100% $22.19
2013 72 22 16 87.5% 92.8% 100% $23.38
2014 84 29 24 100% 100% 100% $23.06

(1) Number of applicants who were offered a place in the class (some may not have enrolled).
(2) Applicants who were offered a place in the class who enrolled and began the program.
(3) Pass rate is based on the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy data.
(4) Graduate survey data.

Program Curriculum Objectives

  1. Work under the supervision of a physical therapist in an ethical, legal, safe, and effective manner

  2. Recognize their strengths and limitations and be able to interpret this to others in relationship to the scope and role of a physical therapist assistant.

  3. Demonstrate knowledge in the basic science of physical therapy including:
    1. anatomy and physiology
    2. functional anatomy, kinesiology, and biomechanics
    3. neuroscience and neuropathology
    4. pathophysiology
    5. musculoskeletal dysfunction and pathology
    6. growth and development across the lifespan
    7. physical properties of therapeutic modalities

  4. Prepare patients, the treatment areas, and equipment to be utilized for safe and effective physical therapy treatments.

  5. Implement comprehensive treatment plans as specified and developed by a physical therapist that include:
    1. application of universal precautions, infection control, and wound care techniques
    2. application of external bandages, dressings, external compression and support
    3. application of therapeutic heat and cold including hydrotherapy
    4. administration of ultraviolet light
    5. application of therapeutic electric currents which include biofeedback, iontophoresis
    6. application of therapeutic massage and pulmonary care
    7. application of cervical and pelvic traction
    8. assist/teaching patient activities of daily living and functional activity training
    9. fitting and use of assistive and adaptive devices
    10. postural, balance, and ambulation training
    11. range of motion and stretching exercises
    12. therapeutic exercise
    13. developmental activities and training
    14. application of orthotics and prosthetics

  6. Respond appropriately to acute changes in the patient’s physiological state and communicate on a timely basis with the supervising physical therapist about the patient’s status.

  7. Modify treatment techniques and progress the patient appropriately as indicated in the plan of care developed by the physical therapist.

  8. Perform appropriate assessment and measurement techniques to assist the supervising physical therapist in monitoring and modifying the plan of care that include:
    1. identification of architectural and environmental barriers and modifications
    2. joint range of motion, muscle length, and flexibility
    3. muscle strength and endurance
    4. vital signs, skin condition, sensation, pain
    5. segmental length, girth, and volume
    6. posture, balance, and gait
    7. functional activities

  9. Teach other health care providers, patients and families to perform selected treatment procedures and functional activities

  10. Interact with patients and families in a manner, which provides the desired psychosocial support by:
    1. recognizing their own reaction to illness and disability
    2. recognizing the patients’ and families’ reactions to illness and disability
    3. respecting individual cultural, religious, and socioeconomic differences in people
    4. using appropriate communication processes to elicit desired responses and provides care in a caring and compassionate way

  11. Document relevant aspects of patient treatment appropriately and accurately

  12. Participate in the discharge planning and follow-up care of the patient

  13. Demonstrate appropriate and effective written, oral, and non-verbal communication with patients, families, colleagues, and the public

  14. Demonstrate ability to be an integral member of the health care team and to participate in the health care delivery system including understanding of:
    1. multidisciplinary teams
    2. issues of quality care
    3. regulatory mechanisms
    4. governmental agencies
    5. private sector issues
    6. roles of other health care providers
    7. functions of various health care facilities
    8. resolution of ethical problems

  15. Understand the principles and rationale of organizational processes relating to:
    1. levels of authority and responsibility
    2. supervisory processes
    3. performance evaluations
    4. time management and planning
    5. policies and procedures
    6. fiscal considerations for both the provider and consumer of health care service

  16. Demonstrate the knowledge and practice of reading and interpreting professional literature, and contribute to the development of the profession of physical therapy

  17. Demonstrate a desire for life-long learning and participate in the continued development of knowledge and skills

The PTA Program combines didactic coursework (lecture format) with extensive laboratory coursework in the PTA laboratory facility, and more than 565 hours of clinical education in various physical therapy clinics affiliated with the program. Full time clinical affiliations may be completed throughout Washington State or in other states.

Students can expect to attend nearly full days in the laboratory courses and the clinic courses during most quarters of the program. While the program is rigorous, the students receive excellent educational support from the two full-time faculty members, one part-time faculty member and a complement of adjunct faculty members with expertise in specialty areas.

Facilities and Support Services

The PTA Program facility was remodeled in 2009 and provides students with state-of-the-art therapy equipment that is reflective of current physical therapy practice. The spacious facility is conducive to both learning and teaching, and supports the excellent educational program. Additional instructional support is provided by the Competency Based Education (CBE) computer laboratory on the main campus. All other college student services are available to the PTA students including library, Student Union Building, counseling and advising, and disability support services.

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