Perceptions of PTA Students For and Against a Transition to a BachelorÕs Degree Model

Purpose/Hypothesis : Physical therapist assistant (PTA) educational programs have been at the associate degree level since their inception over forty years ago. There are currently discussions within the profession regarding the possible transition of PTA education to a bachelorÕs degree model. No previous study has surveyed PTA students regarding their reason for being for or against this possible transition. The purpose of this study was to survey soon-to-be PTA program graduates regarding their perceptions on a possible PTA bachelorÕs degree model.Number of Subjects : 872 PTA Students just prior to graduation.Materials/Methods : A link to an online survey was emailed to the program directors of all accredited and developing PTA programs with directions to forward the link onto students who would be graduating over the next three months. Students were asked if PTA programs should be transitioned to a bachelorÕs degree model, and their reasons why they believe this transition should or should not take place.Results : 68.7% of students stated that PTA educational programs should be transitioned to a bachelorÕs degree model, while 47% of students stated that the amount of time it took to complete their specific PTA program was at the correct length. 35.8% of students stated that they would not have attended a PTA Program if it was offered at the bachelor degree level. For students who were in favor of PTA educational programs transitioning to a bachelorÕs degree, the following were found to be the reasons ranked from most to least important: 1. Will enable additional time to learn required information; 2. Will lead to increased respect for the PTA position; 3. May lead to a higher salary; 4. Would narrow the gap between PT and PTA educational levels; 5. May lead to increased PTA scope of practice; 6. May make it easier to transition to a DPT program; 7. Will allow additional time for elective coursework in specialty areas. For students who were not in favor of PTA educational programs transitioning to a bachelorÕs degree, the following were found to be the reasons ranked from most to least important: 1. Would increase student loan debt; 2. Would not increase salary; 3. Would increase years of schooling; 4. Would not lead to increased scope of practice; 5. The majority of additional coursework would be non-PT general education courses.Conclusions : A majority of surveyed PTA students believe that PTA educational programs should be transitioned to a bachelorÕs degree model. The main reasons stated for making the transition were reasons to gain more physical therapy knowledge and to potentially elevate the perceptions of the PTA position, while the main reasons stated for not making the transition were financial in nature.Clinical Relevance : A majority of PTA students just prior to graduation believe that increasing the length of PTA Programs would be beneficial. Allowing more time to learn physical therapy knowledge was seen as the most important reason for making this transition.

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  • Control #: 2023088
  • Type: Poster
  • Event/Year: CSM2015
  • Authors: Justin Berry, Amy Jenson, Sarah Vierzba, Aubrey Johnson
  • Keywords: PTA Education

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