PHYSICAL THERAPIST ASSISTANT
ASSOCIATE OF SCIENCE
Helping patients take back their lives.
Physical therapy is one of the most rapidly growing and rewarding careers, and the associate degree program at Mercyhurst can offer you the best education in the field. Our esteemed faculty will prepare you to become an important member of a health care team, where you will work under a physical therapist to provide hands-on care that helps improve mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities of patients suffering from injuries or disease. Join the program today and do your part to help patients regain their strength and take back their lives.
- PTAs are in high demand nationwide with a predicted growth of 26.5% over the next ten years.
- 95% of our recent PTA graduates found employment within one year.
A scholarship opportunity exists for this program. Established in 2013 in memory of a PTA graduate, the Danny Bilski PTA Assistance Fund helps current PTA students continue and complete their studies in the field Danny was so passionate about.
The PTA program at Mercyhurst achieved initial accreditation in 1996 with the most recent ten-year reaccreditation received in 2021. With this accreditation firmly in place the program will prepare you for entry-level positions in physical therapy working as a PTA under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. In addition to academic course work and vast clinical experiences it will help you develop your ability to think critically, solve problems, communicate effectively and become a complete well-rounded clinician and contributing member of society.
The degree requires a minimum of 71 credits. Each course in the specified curriculum (or transfer equivalent) must be included in this total. A GPA of 2.0 must be attained by the end of the freshman year and maintained for graduation. A minimum grade of C+ is required in PTA major courses.
The curriculum includes a strong foundation in the basic sciences and technical coursework specific to physical therapy. The first semester consists of foundational coursework, with technical courses beginning in the second semester. Students will also take courses that will help to develop the ability to think critically, solve problems and communicate effectively. A listing of program degree requirements can be found under the Resources tab below.
The clinical education sequence begins in the second year of the program. Students will complete three full-time clinical rotations in a variety of physical therapy settings to include outpatient physical therapy clinics, hospitals, rehab facilities, and nursing homes. Facilities are available throughout the country. Clinical experiences are progressive in nature with an expectation of entry-level ratings achieved by the end of the final clinical experience.
- Demonstrate professional behaviors in all patient/client interactions, including simulated situations
- Perform interventions and data collection in a safe and effective manner as directed in the plan of care and within the scope of practice of a physical therapist assistant
- Effectively monitor patient response to treatment and respond appropriately
- Utilize appropriate communication and documentation to aid in the effective operation of the physical therapy department and the provision of physical therapy services
In addition to Mercyhurst's standard requirements for admission, which include a high school diploma or GED, a minimum GPA of 2.5, and either an ACT, SAT or Mercyhurst Placement Test score that meet placement requirements for the program, individuals applying for admission to the Physical Therapist Assistant program are subject to the following standards:
- Applicant must be a high school graduate or GED recipient with minimum overall C+ average.
- Applicant must have completed high school courses in algebra, biology and chemistry, with a minimum grade of C in each course.
- Applicants must demonstrate ability to complete Research and Writing and Introduction to Statistics the first semester of the program. If preparatory English or math courses are needed, a student could enter as a Liberal Studies major for their first year and complete remedial coursework prior to entering the PTA program.
- Applicant must complete a total of 20 hours of documented work or volunteer experience in two different physical therapy settings under the supervision of a licensed PT or PTA prior to the start of classes.
- Final official transcripts are required before the start of classes.
- All students enrolled in the program are required to complete the following prior to the clinical education courses:
- Criminal history clearances (state, FBI fingerprint, and child abuse)
- Drug screen
- Current physical examination and immunizations/titers
- TB screening (2-step)
- CPR certification
MissionThe Mission of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program is to educate competent physical therapist assistants with a commitment to serving the communities where they live. Our graduates will be prepared to provide high quality contemporary physical therapy services to patients/clients within the scope of practice of the physical therapist assistant under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.
Career OutlookProgram graduates are employed at physical therapy settings throughout the country with many progressing to the level of department or regional managers. Some graduates have continued their education in a variety of fields including chiropractic, physician assistant, athletic training, biology, and doctor of physical therapy.
The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Mercyhurst University is accredited by:
Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE)
3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100
Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085
Public Comment Policy
The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Mercyhurst University actively seeks feedback about program, student, and graduate performance. Individuals are welcome to provide comments or concerns. Comments should be submitted to the PTA Program Director. If an individual would like to comment directly to the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), comments can be made via the CAPTE website.
Students in our program receive hands-on training in the PTA Lab and learn how to use the equipment found in physical therapy clinics.
PTAs work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, outpatient physical therapy clinics, rehab centers, and home health care.
Graduates of the PTA program have also gone on to enroll in a DPT program after completing their associate and bachelor’s degrees.
Each student completes 640 hours of clinical education in a variety of physical therapy settings in the second year of the program.
The program prepares graduates for the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) designed to ensure sufficient PT knowledge.
Many program graduates have gone on to earn a bachelor's degree in fields such as biology, public health, or sports medicine.