2015-2016 Student Catalog 
    Apr 24, 2024  
2015-2016 Student Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physical Therapist Assistant, A.A.S.

Contact Information

Program Requirements

Typical Program

Degree/Certificate:    Associate in Applied Science
HEGIS Code:            5219
SUNY Code:             0489
Major Code:             PTA

The Career

Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) work under the supervision of a physical therapist (PT). Following examination and evaluation, the physical therapist designs individualized treatment programs for patients and clients. The PTA helps in providing these treatment interventions, reporting the patient’s progress and response to treatment to the PT as well as documenting in the patient’s medical record. PTAs help patients achieve relief of pain and improved movement and function through physical therapy interventions which may include therapeutic exercise, functional training and physical therapy modalities such as heat, hydrotherapy and electrotherapy.

Employment opportunities are available in hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, schools, government agencies, private clinics, home-care and other settings.

The NCCC Approach

NCCC’s PTA program is accredited by the Commission of Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education of the American Physical Therapy Association, 111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-1488, (703) 684-2782 or (800) 999-2782. Upon successful completion of the PTA program, students are eligible to take the National Physical Therapist Assistant Examination and be certified in New York State.

The NCCC program includes both theory and practice as well as extensive clinical experience in Western New York hospitals and other health care facilities. The program consists of four (4) semesters of classroom and laboratory instruction plus four (4) full-time clinical education courses. The first clinical education course is four weeks in length and is completed in the summer at the end of the second semester. The second clinical education course is also four weeks and is completed in February of the fourth semester. The final two clinical education courses are five weeks each. One of these final clinical education courses is completed at the end of the last academic semester and the other is completed in the summer following the academic semester. Prior to attending each clinical education course, the student is required to demonstrate competency in the clinical skills learned in the classroom.

The health care facilities that the student will attend for clinical education courses may involve driving distances as far as outer Niagara, Erie and Orleans counties. Clinical education courses may also be arranged at facilities outside of Western New York as well as outside New York State for those students who are interested. Students must provide their own travel and housing expenses, both locally and nationally.

For more information, prospective students are invited to view the NCCC PTA program website at www.niagaracc.suny.edu

Admission & Curriculum Change Requirements

Students will be considered for admission to the PTA program when all of the prerequisites have been completed. The PTA prefix courses are sequential in nature, so students may only begin the program in the fall semester.

All applicants must meet the following admission requirements:

  1. High school diploma or equivalency diploma.
  2. Mathematics and science courses as follows:
  • Successful completion with an 80% or higher in high school mathematics through Course II or Course A or Integrated Geometry or at least a grade of C in MAT 110 or a higher level mathematics course(s).

  • Successful completion with an 80% or higher in high school biology or at least a C grade in BIO 109 (with lab) or BIO 117 (with lab) or BIO 213 (with lab).

  • Successful completion with an 80% or higher in high school physics or at least a grade of C in PHS 101 or PHY 131 (with lab).

  1. Applicants will be tested for academic foundations in reading, writing and mathematics. To be accepted into the program, applicants must earn the minimum required score on these tests or pass the academic foundations course listed below.
If below the required score in Will need to pass
  Writing   ENG 099
  Reading   AAC 042
  Mathematics   MAT 002

These academic foundations courses do not count toward the degree.


Applicants who have questions regarding their qualifications should contact the Admissions Office at 614-6200. Applications are accepted beginning September 1 for the subsequent year’s entering freshmen class.

  • Persons who previously attended NCCC and would like to apply to the Physical Therapist Assistant program should contact the Admissions Office.
  • Students who are currently attending NCCC, not matriculated in a program, and would like to apply to the Physical Therapist Assistant program, should also contact the Admissions Office.
  • Students who are currently attending NCCC, are matriculated in another program, and would like to apply to the Physical Therapist Assistant program, should contact Student Development.

Requirements to Remain in the Program

Once accepted into the Physical Therapist Assistant program, continued matriculation is contingent upon:

  1. An acceptable student physical examination. Health records including a physical exam, immunizations and blood work must remain current for the entire period of enrollment in the Physical Therapist Assistant program. The student is responsible for all costs related to the physical examination. Because of the nature of the profession, students need a moderate degree of strength because of physical exertion required in assisting patients with their treatment. In some cases, assistants need to lift patients. Frequent kneeling, stooping and standing for long periods are also part of the job.
  2. Certification in Basic Life Support and First Aid Responding to Emergencies must be completed prior to the first clinical education course. This requirement may be fulfilled through successful completion of HED 214 or an equivalent program offered by the American Red Cross or American Heart Association. Certification must remain current throughout the program.
  3. Abiding by all academic and clinical education policies.


PTA Course Grading Policy: A student must earn a minimum C grade in all PTA prefix courses. A “C” grade is a score of 75 percent in PTA courses.

Minimum Grade in Anatomy and Physiology for Physical Therapist Assistant Students: A minimum C grade in Human Anatomy and Physiology (BIO 213 and BIO 214), Human Anatomy and Physiology Laboratories (BIO 213L and BIO 214L) and Neuroanatomy and Physiology (BIO 215) must be earned for successful completion of the Physical Therapist Assistant program and to continue onto the next sequential PTA and BIO courses.

Repeat Policy: In the sequence of the Physical Therapist Assistant courses a student who fails (less than C grade) may repeat only one course in the sequence. A student who is failing at the time of withdrawal from one of these courses (W grade) or withdrawal from the College (X grade) may repeat only one of these courses in the sequence. This policy does not affect a student who is passing one of these courses at the time of withdrawing from the course or the College.

For example:

If a student fails PTA 112 on the first attempt and then passes PTA 112 on the second attempt, he/she must pass all remaining PTA prefix courses on the first attempt; the student may not repeat any other PTA course.

If a student is failing PTA 112 at the time the student withdraws from PTA 112 or from the College and then passes PTA 112 on the second attempt, he/she must pass all of the remaining PTA prefix courses on the first attempt; the student may not repeat any other PTA course.

All prerequisite Physical Therapist Assistant courses must be successfully completed before progressing to the next sequential Physical Therapist Assistant course.

Matriculated Status: All students matriculated in the Physical Therapist Assistant program must begin PTA 110, 111, 112 and 116 their first semester of matriculated status. If students do not begin these PTA courses their first semester of matriculated status, they will lose matriculated status and must reapply to the program.

Students must maintain continuous registration in Physical Therapist Assistant, prerequisite and corequisite courses, to remain matriculated in the Physical Therapist Assistant program.

  1. Any student who fails or withdraws from any PTA prefix course or any prerequisite courses or corequisite courses that are necessary for continuing in the Physical Therapist Assistant program will lose matriculated status in the Physical Therapist Assistant program.
  2. Any student who does not register the following consecutive semester for the next Physical Therapist Assistant course(s) or any corequisite courses that are necessary for continuing in the Physical Therapist Assistant program will lose matriculated status in the Physical Therapist Assistant program.

Students will be advised of their options if they lose matriculated status.

Standard of Ethics Policy: When a student is unable to provide safe physical therapist assistant care of patients and/or does not meet the ethical standards of the physical therapist assistant profession in the clinical education setting, the Physical Therapist Assistant clinical coordinator, upon recommendation from the Physical Therapist Assistant clinical faculty, will remove said student from the clinical education component of the Physical Therapist Assistant course. Unsafe care is defined as “placing the patient/family in clear and present danger.” These students are not eligible for re-admission into the Physical Therapist Assistant program.

Five-Year-Course Policy: If a student has taken a course or courses with a PTA or BIO prefix five or more years before enrolling in a subsequent PTA or BIO course, the coordinator of the Physical Therapist Assistant program shall have the right to require that the PTA or BIO course/courses be repeated.

Program Goals and Objectives

The program graduates will:

  • Demonstrate entry-level skill competence
  • Provide quality care in a variety of health care settings
  • Demonstrate professionalism in interactions with patients, clients, families, other health care providers and staff
  • Participate in opportunities for continued professional growth and development

Student Learning Outcomes

The NCCC PTA program student will demonstrate the following characteristics, skills and capabilities:

  • Demonstrate professional communication skills in interactions with patients, family members, the physical therapist and other health care delivery personnel
  • Demonstrate sensitivity to individual and cultural differences in all aspects of physical therapy services.
  • Exhibit conduct that reflects a commitment to meet or exceed the expectations of health care recipients and members of the profession of physical therapy.
  • Participate in patient status judgments by recognizing the appropriate responses to interventions provided within the plan of care and reporting changes to supervising PT and requesting patient re-examination or revisions to interventions
  • Instruct aides, volunteers, peers and coworkers using established techniques, programs and instructional materials.
  • Demonstrate competence in performing specific data-collection techniques as delegated by the supervising PT and uses information from data collection to progress patient interventions.
  • Implement delegated interventions to achieve the short- and long-term goals and outcomes identified in the plan of care.
  • Implement the delegated interventions within the plan of care established by the PT, monitors the patient response and responds accordingly. Adjust interventions within the plan of care established by the PT in response to patient clinical indications and in compliance with state practice acts, the practice setting and other regulatory agencies. Recognize when intervention should not be provided due to changing clinical conditions, and defer to the PT.
  • Use data collection and communication to participate in determining a patient’s progress toward specific outcomes as established in the plan of care by the PT.
  • Provide services under the direction of the PT in primary, secondary and tertiary settings.
  • Supervise the physical therapy aide in patient-related activities as delegated to the aide by the PT and non-patient care activities, as defined by the policies and procedures of the practice setting. Provide accurate and timely information for billing and reimbursement purposes.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to meeting the needs of the patients and consumers.
  • Participate in career development based on self-assessment, performance appraisals, work setting and special interests and recognize the role of the PTA in the clinical education of PT and PTA students, and prepare to assume that role.

 NCCC Program Statistics:

  • NCCC PTA program accreditation status:  Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) accredited through 2016.
  • Graduation rate:  Average for years 2010 - 2012:  63%.
  • Licensure examination pass rate:  Average for years 2010 - 2012:  100%.
  • Employment rate:  90% of graduates (who sought employment) were employed as PTAs within six months of passing the certification examination.


Program Requirements (PTA)

  1. A total of at least 63-credit hours with a minimum curriculum grade-point average of 2.0. Academic Foundations courses do not count toward the degree.
  2. Physical Therapist Assistant: A minimum of 41-credit hours to include:
    PTA 110 - Introduction to Clinical Kinesiology 
    PTA 111L Basic Patient Care Skills 
    PTA 112L Physical Therapy Foundations Laboratory 
    PTA 116 - Introduction to the PT Profession 
    PTA 130 - Clinical Orthopedics 
    PTA 131L Clinical Orthopedics Lab 
    PTA 150 - Clinical Practicum I 
    PTA 210 - Physical Agents 
    PTA 211L Physical Agents Laboratory 
    PTA 220 - Clinical Medicine I 
    PTA 221L Clinical Medicine I Laboratory  
    PTA 230 - Pediatrics 
    PTA 231L Pediatrics Laboratory 
    PTA 232L Neurorehabilitation Laboratory 
    PTA 240 - Clinical Medicine II 
    PTA 250 - Clinical Practicum II 
    PTA 275 - Clinical Practicum III 
    PTA 295 - Clinical Practicum IV  
  3. Biological Sciences: A minimum of 13-credit hours to include:
    BIO 213 - Human Anatomy and Physiology I *
    BIO 213L Human Anatomy and Physiology I Lab *
    BIO 214 - Human Anatomy and Physiology II 
    BIO 214L Human Anatomy and Physiology Lab II 
    BIO 215 - Neuroanatomy and Physiology  
  4. Basic Communication - General Education: A minimum of 3-credit hours to include:
    ENG 101 - Writing I *
  5. Psychology: A minimum of 6-credit hours to include:
    PSY 110 - Introduction to Psychology 
    PSY 210 - Lifespan Developmental Psychology  
  6. A minimum curriculum grade of C in all PTA courses.
  7. Satisfactory completion of all clinical education courses.


Typical Program


 * Dependent upon the fulfillment of Academic Foundations requirements.

Additional Costs

In addition to textbooks:

  • Students must purchase a stethoscope, sphygmomanometer, three goniometers, tape measure and a reflex hammer ($95 minimum).
  • Students are also required to have a watch with a second hand.
  • Appropriate attire as required by clinical sites.
  • Each student is required to provide his/her own transportation and room and board (if applicable) to clinical sites.
  • In the event that a clinical education site requires a drug screen or background check, all fees for screening and/or testing will be the student’s responsibility.
  • Graduates are required to pass a national certification exam ($295) and register with the New York State Education Department ($103) upon completion of their degree requirements. (Regulations and fees vary in other states.)
  • NOTE: Liability insurance is provided by NCCC at no cost for all PTA students during their clinical practical.

Questions or concerns about the PTA program can be directed to:

Deborah Matuch, PTA Program Coordinator
Office: C-284
Phone: (716) 614-6422
Email: matuch@niagaracc.suny.edu

Susan Wehling, PTA Program Coordinator
Office: C-284
Phone: (716) 614-5912
Email: wehling@niagaracc.suny.edu

Or, for further information, please refer to the program website at www.niagaracc.suny.edu

Scholarship Opportunities

There are several scholarships available to NCCC students.  Scholarship deadline dates vary each semester.  For more information, please visit the scholarship webpage at www.niagaracc.suny.edu/scholarships . The NCCC Scholarship Office is located within the Financial Aid Complex, A-114 or by phone (716) 614-6205.