Physical Therapist Assistant

Associate Degree

About the Program

The Physical Therapist Assistant is a skilled technical health-care worker who carries out patient treatment programs under the supervision of a Physical Therapist. The assistant works to relieve pain and/or increase function in patients via therapeutic application of heat, cold, light, water, electricity, sound, massage, exercise, gait, and functional activity.

Clinical experience is provided in a variety of settings including, but not limited to; hospitals, rehabilitation agencies, schools, private offices, and long-term care facilities.

The Physical Therapist Assistant curriculum is configured sequentially to allow the student to complete the general education courses (Phase I) in a flexible format. During Phase I, the student can complete not only the academic requirements needed for the associate degree, but can also complete the observation requirements and all necessary documentation required prior to applying for the technical portion (Phase II) of the degree. Movement into the second phase is dependent on successful completion of the pre-PTA coursework as well as the additional specific admissions requirements found below.

The Physical Therapist Assistant program at Midlands Technical College is accredited by the:

Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE)
1111 North Fairfax Street
Alexandra, VA 22314
Telephone: 703.706.3245

Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) logo

If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 803.822.3337 or email

Learning experiences for students in the Physical Therapist Assistant Degree Program are provided in classrooms and laboratories in Lexington Hall on the Airport Campus. Student preclinical experience in the physical therapy skills labs allow students to attain competence prior to their required clinical rotations (externships/internships) which are arranged through affiliations with local physical therapy practices and other healthcare facilities.

PTA Program information sessions; held on the first Wednesday of each month from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm in the Airport Campus Health Sciences Building Auditorium, Room #144; are mandatory and are to be attended prior to applying to Phase II. Information sessions will not be held in the month of January or if the first Wednesday of the month is a holiday.  Participants will have the opportunity to learn about the profession and the program including admission requirements, meet the faculty and tour the facilities.  Preregistration for information sessions is not required.

Please view our program statistics.

Special Requirements

Specific Interview Eligibility Criteria for to the Physical Therapist Assistant (Phase II) program include:

  • Submission of the required application materials by the due date published on the program website;
  • Completion of 20 hours of clinical Physical Therapy observation followed by submission of the evaluation forms and student observation paper;
  • Completion of all Phase I courses with adherence to the Health Sciences “Course Repeat Policy” and “Course Acceptance Timeframe Policy.”
  • All Phase I courses must be successfully completed no later than the fall term immediately preceding the January application due date and must have a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher

Specific Admission Requirements to the Physical Therapist Assistant (Phase II) program include:

  • Successful interview by the Physical Therapist Assistant Program Admissions Committee, followed by
  • First-aid and CPR certification; and
  • Acceptable criminal background check and drug screening results.

Please prepare ahead for any interview that has been offered. Students that fail to progress to Phase II due to a poor interview will not be permitted to apply again. 

Click to view the MTC PTA Clinic Manual.

Essential Functions and Technical Standards

The following standards reflect reasonable expectations of a student in the PTA Program for the performance of common physical therapy functions. In adopting these standards the PTA Program is mindful of the patient’s right to safe and quality treatment by a skilled PTA. These skills are necessary for the PTA to function in a broad variety of clinical situations while providing the spectrum of physical therapy interventions. These standards generally reflect what may be required for employment of the graduate PTA. Upon admission, to verify that a student has the ability to perform these essential functions, students may be required to demonstrate the following technical standards:

Critical Thinking/Problem Solving Skills

Definition: Ability to collect, interpret and integrate information and make decisions.

Standard (examples are not all inclusive):

  • Collect, interpret and integrate information and make decisions.
  • Read and comprehend relevant information in textbooks, medical records and professional literature.
  • Identify cause/effect relationships in the provision of health care.
  • Identify patient problems and adjust patient goals and interventions appropriately within the health care team plan of care.
  • Respond calmly and effectively to emergencies.
  • Know when and how to apply universal precautions.
  • Use effective teaching, learning and test taking strategies.


Interpersonal Skills

Definition: Ability to collaboratively work with all PTA students and with program faculty in the classroom, lab and clinical setting.

Standard (examples are not all inclusive):

  • Work collaboratively with all PTA students, faculty and staff, clinicians and patients in classroom, lab and clinical settings.
  • Embody the spirit of cooperation and collegiality, employing basic conflict management skills as situations require.
  • Establish positive and supportive rapport with patients/clients and colleagues.
  • Participate in all lab situations to experience both clinician and patient roles, receiving and communicating empathy.
  • Establish positive, supportive, effective and harmonious relationships in diverse settings, with diverse patient/clients and colleagues.
Behavioral/Emotional/ Social Coping Skills

Definition: Ability to respond appropriately to stressful environments or during impending deadlines.

Standard (examples are not all inclusive):

  • Display maturity, good judgment, sensitivity, and emotional stability when in academic and professional settings.
  • Manage heavy academic schedules and deadlines.
  • Concentrate on professional duties without distraction in all settings.
  • Set priorities and perform all aspects of therapy services in fast-paced academic and clinical situations.
  • Cope effectively with psychosocial issues involving illness, disability and death without hindering effective performance of duties.
  • Work collaboratively with all PTA students, faculty and staff, clinicians and patients in classroom, lab and clinical settings.
Communication Skills

Definition: Ability to communicate effectively in English using verbal, nonverbal and written formats with faculty, other students, patients, families, and health care workers.

Standard (examples are not all inclusive):

  • Communicate effectively in English using verbal, non-verbal and written formats with faculty, other students, patients, families, and health care workers.
  • Describe and teach physical therapy procedures in both oral and written format.
  • Give directions to patients and family members.
  • Answer questions to the satisfaction of patients, co-workers, physicians and other health care providers.
  • Keep accurate logs and records of treatment procedures and charges using appropriate medical terminology, correct spelling and grammar?
  • Demonstrate active listening skills. Recognize, interpret and respond to non-verbal behavior of self and others.
Physical Mobility/Motor Skills

Definition: Sufficient motor ability to execute the movement and skills required for safe and effective physical therapy treatment.

Standard (examples are not all inclusive):

  • Execute the movement and skills required for safe and effective physical therapy treatment.
  • Demonstrate adequate coordination, balance, speed and agility to assist and safely manage patients who are walking on level and unlevel terrain to include: stairs, ramps, grass/gravel, curbs, and diverse home flooring.
  • Demonstrate and perform exercise programs and functional activities required of established patient care interventions without injuring self or others.
  • Move, adjust and position patients or equipment which involves bending, stooping freely to the floor, reaching overhead, lifting, pulling or guiding a weight of 200-250 pounds.
  • Provide emergency care and administer CPR.
  • Stand, kneel, sit, walk or crawl for 90 minutes without rest.
  • Perform transfer and gait training techniques using correct and safe body mechanics.
  • Manipulate with sufficient dexterity bi-manually the devices used in physical therapy, such as adjusting gauges, dials with one hand while moving thermal/electric devices with the other hand.
  • Manipulate small nuts/bolts, and therapy equipment settings with sufficient hand strength and dexterity.
Sensory Abilities

Definition: Sufficient auditory, visual and tactile ability to monitor and assess health needs.

Standard (examples are not all inclusive):

  • Monitor and assess patient’s health needs with sufficient auditory, visual and tactile acuity.
  • Visual – (corrected as necessary) recognize and interpret facial expressions and body language and patient posture, identify normal and abnormal patterns of movement, discriminate color changes and interpret and assess the environment up to 20 feet; read or set parameters on physical therapy equipment.
  • Auditory – (corrected as necessary) recognize and respond to soft voices or voices under protective garb, auditory timers, equipment/emergency alarms, and effectively use devices for the measurement of vital signs and breathe sounds. Be able to hear patients and respond to patient critical needs when not in direct line of site.
  • Tactile –palpate a pulse and detect changes or abnormalities of surface texture, skin temperature, body segment contour, muscle tone and joint movement.

Definition: Ability to demonstrate professional behaviors and a strong work ethic.

Standard (examples are not all inclusive):

  • Demonstrate unselfish, honest, moral and ethical behavior in all academic and professional settings.
  • Take initiative; be creative, prepared, flexible, enthusiastic, cooperative, tolerant, respectful of authority, and industrious in all academic, clinical and professional settings.
  • Demonstrate time management skills that promote punctual attendance to class, labs and clinics as required.
  • Demonstrate a work ethic consistent with professional standards.
  • Recognize personal limitations and request assistance as appropriate.
  • Demonstrate responsibility for personal and professional development.
  • Demonstrate respect for the patient, other health care providers and the profession of physical therapy.
  • Maintain confidences.
  • Present professional appearance and maintain personal hygiene.

Adapted from the Red Alert: The Americans with Disabilities Act - Implications for Nursing Education (March '93)

There are two ways to qualify for Phase II: Merit Admissions and Date Based Admissions.  Please see the application processes below:

Merit Based Admissions

A merit interview opportunity is available for highly qualified applicants.

Date Based Admissions

  • Download Phase II application.
  • The deadline to submit the Phase II application to Dr. Damian Rankin, DPT,  is January 13, 2020.


All Physical Therapist Assistant courses must be completed with a “C” or higher in order to progress in the curriculum. No more than two Phase I courses may be repeated and no course may be repeated more than once. The repeat policy is applied to coursework taken both at MTC and at other colleges. All Phase II curriculum courses must be completed with a “C” or higher and may not be repeated.


Students who withdraw from Phase II or who are unable to continue due to grade deficiency must reapply for readmission. Readmission is not guaranteed and is on a space-available basis. Students may re-enter the program only once and must repeat all courses in Phase II.


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