Standards & Requirements

Health and Physical Requirements

Students need the ability to:

  • Lift and move patients, equipment and accessories (up to 50 pounds).
  • Manipulate treatment equipment and measuring instruments using fine motor skills.
  • Hear audible cues and warnings from patients and equipment.
  • Use sense of touch to provide patient care, palpate anatomical landmarks, position patients and administer treatments.
  • Teach patients through use of verbal, tactile and demonstrative cues.
  • Use interpersonal skills to handle patients with physical or emotional trauma and to interact with other people in the classroom, lab or clinical setting in a professional manner.


All students admitted to the Physical Therapist Assistant program are expected to carry their own personal health insurance. 

Technical Standards

Graduates of this program, as entry-level physical therapist assistants, will be able to provide safe, effective, high quality services to patients/clients under the direction of the physical therapist. One of the program goals is to meet or exceed the entry level skills necessary for the graduate to assume reasonability for patient care within the physical therapy community. On occasion PTAs may be required to tolerate physically and mentally taxing workloads. The ability to adapt to changing environments, display flexibility and function effectively under stress are some of the many “intangibles” required to perform as a PTA. To satisfy the requirements of the position and those of the program, certain essential functions/generic abilities must be performed in a satisfactory manner.

Generic Abilities

Generic abilities are attributes, characteristics or behaviors that are not explicitly part of the profession’s core of knowledge and technical skills but are nevertheless required for success in the profession. Throughout the PTA curriculum, students will self-assess their abilities in these areas using the following as a guideline for self-reflection. Faculty members and clinical instructors will also use the following to provide students feedback and help them achieve personal and professional growth. A student conducted at UW-Madison in 1991-1992 identified 10 generic abilities. They are: 
  1. Commitment to Learning
    The ability to self-assess, self-correct and self-direct; to identify needs and sources of learning; and to continually seek new knowledge and understanding.
  2. Interpersonal Skills
    The ability to interact effectively with patients, families, colleagues, other health care professionals and the community, and to deal effectively with cultural and ethnic diversity issues.
  3. Communication Skills
    The ability to communicate effectively (i.e., speaking, body language, reading, writing, listening) for varied audiences and purposes.
  4. Effective Use of Time and Resources
    The ability to obtain the maximum benefit from a minimum investment of time and resources.
  5. Use of Constructive Feedback
    The ability to identify sources of and seek out feedback and to effectively use and provide feedback for improving personal interaction.
  6. Problem-Solving
    The ability to recognize and define problems, analyze data, develop and implement solutions, and evaluate outcomes.
  7. Professionalism
    The ability to exhibit appropriate professional conduct and represent the profession effectively.
  8. Responsibility
    The ability to fulfill commitments and to be accountable for actions and outcomes.
  9. Critical Thinking
    The ability to question logically; to identify, generate and evaluate elements of logical argument; to recognize and differentiate facts, illusions, assumptions and hidden assumptions; and to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant.
  10. Stress Management
    The ability to identify sources of stress and to develop effective coping behaviors.

Special Scheduling

In addition to lecture and lab classes, students will complete at least 540 hours of clinical education in area health care facilities during the program. Students will be assigned to clinical sites based on need and availability. Students are expected to provide their own transportation to clinical sites, which may be based out of town.

Student Employment

Due to the demands of the full-time PTA program, student employment is not encouraged. However, exceptions may arise. This personal decision should be based on individual performance in the classroom, clinical education sites and personal health. PTA faculty want students to be successful in the program and want to ensure that essential learning isn't compromised. Students won't be excused from class or clinical assignments for personal work schedules. Students are encouraged to contact the Scholarships & Financial Aid Office.