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Physical Therapist Assistant

What is a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA)?

Apply to the PTA ProgramThe physical therapist assistant is a skilled technical health-care worker who carries out the patient’s treatment program under the supervision of a physical therapist. The physical therapist assistant is involved in patient care to the extent the supervising physical therapist allows.

Common duties of a physical therapist assistant include: conducting physical therapy treatments, training patients and family members on proper performance of exercise and activities of daily living, assist the physical therapist in performing assessments/evaluations and more complex treatment procedures, and observing/reporting the patient’s response to treatment.

Physical therapist assistants commonly work alongside other disciplines such as nursing, occupational therapy, speech language pathology, social work, physician services, recreational therapy, dietary, and psychology. The goal of this team of professionals is the patient’s restoration to his or her highest level of function.

Who is a Physical Therapist Assistant?

A physical therapist assistant is an individual who enjoys working with people by applying his or her interested in medical science to each individual. A physical therapist assistant is in high demand at this time and can be found in many settings including: hospitals, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation agencies, medical groups, and schools.

Southern Adventist University’s PTA Program

The physical therapist assistant program at Southern Adventist University is a 15-month sequence of classes that begin each August and conclude in December of the following year. Students will initially spend a majority of time in the classroom followed by three major clinical rotations, one four weeks and two six weeks.

Clinical placements will be assigned by the Director of Clinical Education or a designate (or program director). Because of the limited number of local facilities available, assignments cannot be made on the basis of the student’s family/marital status or personal preference. Although the department makes an effort to accommodate the student’s preference, the student agrees to accept the clinical assignment made by the department at any of the affiliated facilities, whether local or out of state. Clinical facilities may also require a background check and or fingerprinting and may have certain stipulations (ie, immunizations, CPR certification) that need to be met before the student is assigned. Costs for these requirements are the student’s financial responsibility.


Complaints regarding the program or the program graduates should be first addressed to the PTA Program Director, Christopher Stewart, at cbstewart@southern.edu or 423-236-2356. Unresolved complaints or complaints about the Program Director should be directed to Robert Young, PhD, Senior Vice President for Academic Administration. Young's email address is ryoung@southern.edu and his phone number is 423-236-2804. All complaints will be documented, including the projected outcome, and kept on file at the program facility. Complaints regarding Accreditation of this program should be addressed to the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. This Commission is located at 111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia, 22314.


Effective April 30, 2019, Southern Adventist University has been granted Candidate for Accreditation status by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; phone; 703-706-3245; accreditation@apta.org). If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 423.236.2858 or email pta@southern.edu

Candidate for Accreditation is a pre-accreditation status of affiliation with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, which indicates the program is progressing toward accreditation and may matriculate students in technical courses. Candidate for Accreditation is not an accreditation status, nor does it assure eventual accreditation.

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