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New York's physical therapy assistants elevated to licensed professionals


Wed, Feb 21st 2024 11:45 am

Reclassification recognizes qualifications, aims to encourage more individuals to become physical therapy assistants amidst growing demand

Submitted by APTA New York

In 2022, at the behest of the New York Chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), Gov. Kathy Hochul signed into law a reclassification for physical therapy assistants (PTAs) from a certified profession under New York State Education Law to a licensed profession.

This reclassification, which took effect Feb. 17, acknowledges the extensive training and qualifications possessed by PTAs, and raises the stature of the profession with the hopes of encouraging more people to enter the field and fill current vacancies that remain as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like many medical sectors, physical therapy practices were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. While physical therapy was designated an “essential health care” service during the COVID-19 pandemic, a great number of practices continue to feel the effects of the pandemic to this day in the form of staffing vacancies created by individuals who left the profession or moved to other areas of the country.

According to a 2023 industry survey, 70% of physical therapy practices reported having openings for physical therapy assistants with an average vacancy rate of 12%. This represents a tremendous professional opportunity in a growing health care space as people live longer and look for natural and noninvasive ways to treat occupational and sports injuries along with the physical effects of aging.

Michael Tisbe, P.T., D.P.T., president of APTA New York said, “Physical therapy assistants are an invaluable facet of physical therapy practices, allowing a licensed physical therapist with a Doctor of Physical Therapy to treat a larger number of patients effectively. PTAs are essentially a force multiplier, with each licensed physical therapist allowed to supervise up to four physical therapy assistants who are able to implement a physical therapist’s treatment plan without having to be directly supervised. The elevation of PTAs from a certified to a licensed profession affirms their high level of professional skill and dedication to patients and their care, and will serve to incentivize people to enter this growing and important health care field.”

New York licensed physical therapy assistants meet preliminary and triennial continuing education and registration requirements with the state Department of Education to ensure they are up to date on the latest industry standards and best practices. The change from being a certified profession to a licensed profession assures the public that they are being treated by an individual who meets exacting professional, educational and ethical standards.

More than a dozen accredited physical therapy assistant programs are available throughout New York state, where students can earn their physical therapy associate degree, and, in some cases, a dual associate and bachelor’s degree. According to ZipRecruiter, PTAs in New York state earn an average salary of $72,800 per year compared to the statewide average for all professions of $51,499, making physical therapy a financially sound and stable career choice.

In New York, anyone can see a physical therapist directly without a referral from a physician, and most employer provided health plans cover physical therapy sessions.

To find a physical therapist near you, visit www.ChoosePT.org.

More About APTA New York

APTA New York is the state chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), an individual membership professional organization representing 100,000-member physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy. APTA New York functions as an advocate for New York physical therapists, fighting to protect their practices, for fair payment, and to eliminate obstacles preventing consumers from having access to physical therapy treatment. Learn more at https://aptany.org.

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