Until recently, physical therapist assistants (PTAs) haven’t had the same opportunities as physical therapists to advance their skills, says Christina Howard, coordinator for the Lane Community College Physical Therapist Assistant Program.
But that’s all changing, she says, now that Lane has partnered with the North American Institute of Orthopaedic Manual Therapy (NAIOMT) to provide the first U.S. competency-based program in manual therapy for PTAs.
Howard volunteered to pilot the curriculum, which is designed to comply with Oregon Administrative Rules governing the practices of physical therapy.
The certification is in response to employers who have told Howard that they would hire more Lane graduates if the students demonstrated “that they can apply manual therapies on a patient,” such as providing gentle joint movements, mobilizing soft tissues, and encouraging, with stretches, the full use of extremities, elbows and forearms.
Eugene physical therapist Bill Temes, who is director of mentorship with Therapeutic Associates, Inc., at OMG Country Club Road in Eugene, credits Howard for “seeing the need for more training in manual therapy, and for making this type of continuing education available to all PTAs.”
The NAIOMT program also offers PTAs the opportunity to deepen their critical thinking skills, says Heather Chavin, the association’s director of business development. What’s more, physical therapists who hold advanced practice degrees serve as instructors and mentors to the PTAs. While the coursework includes theory, “much of the content is hands-on,” Chavin says.
More than two-thirds of NAIOMT’s recent PTA registrants were employees of Therapeutic Associates, Inc., a well-respected Northwest company with offices in Eugene and Springfield. “We see a need for assistants who can reason and apply critical thinking skills,” Temes explains.
The completion of two 14-hour courses at $300 each, which include online curricula, videos and mentoring, is required to be eligible for certification.
For more information—
- Lane Community College Physical Therapist Assistant Program
- Therapeutic Associates, Inc. at OMG Country Club Road, Eugene
- North American Institute of Orthopaedic Manual Therapy
Published by Marketing and Public Relations, April 2017.