How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in Tennessee

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How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in Tennessee

The healthcare system in Tennessee needs physical therapist assistants.

This type of personnel is seen mostly in the following facilities, but not only:

  • Rehab clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Healthcare centers
  • Home health care service providers
  • Medical centers

Through this article, you’ll learn what you need to do to become a physical therapist assistant in Tennessee.

Earning the Physical Therapist Assistant License

To become a physical therapist assistant in this state, you’ll need a license from the Tennessee Department of Health’s Board of Physical Therapy.

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The Board issues this license to those who pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for physical therapist assistants.

The passing score is 600 and only those who graduate from a CAPTE-accredited program can take it.

These programs also need to be approved by the Board.

To be accepted into the program you might be required to show:

  • You have up-to-date immunizations done
  • A clean criminal record
  • You’re free of addictions
  • CPR certification

It’s very common to earn these degrees for this occupation:

  • Physical Therapist Associate of Science (AS)
  • Physical Therapist Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

The programs combine classroom education with laboratory classes, however, an internship is also mandatory for graduation.

The internship lasts for at least 14 weeks.

The coursework will include:

  • Introduction to Physical Therapist Assistants
  • Physical Therapist Assistant Procedures
  • Functional Anatomy
  • Musculoskeletal Conditions Treatment
  • Neuromuscular Conditions Treatment
  • Med Surgical Conditions Treatment

The internship will be completed in the same types of facilities where you hope to find employment.

Usually, schools can facilitate your placement in an internship.

Once you graduate, you can start the process towards licensure.

You’ll have to apply for the exam, using these documents:

  • Application form
  • 2 x 2 recent passport photo
  • License fee – $135
  • School transcripts
  • Proof of citizenship
  • An original letter of recommendation
  • Criminal background check information

Only those who receive the Authorization to Test (ATT) can proceed.

For the NPTE, you’re also supposed to register with the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT).

To administer this test, the FSBPT charges $400, though you’ll have to go to the Prometric testing centers to take it.

Prometric also charges another fee of $70 to protectorate the exam.

The exam has a duration of 4 hours, and you must answer 200 questions.

The questions will be on these topics:

  • Physical Therapy Data Collection
  • Gastrointestinal System
  • Interventions
  • Metabolic & Endocrine Systems
  • Diseases and Conditions that Impact Effective Treatment
  • Genitourinary System
  • Equipment and Devices
  • Musculoskeletal System
  • Therapeutic Modalities
  • Safety and Protection
  • Neuromuscular & Nervous Systems

Employment and Salary Information for Physical Therapist Assistants

Tennessee has many good facilities where you can apply for a job.

These are some examples:

  • AccentCare, Inc. – Clarksville, Franklin, Dickson
  • Life Care Centers of America – Hixson, Dayton, Chattanooga, Ooltewah, Tullahoma, Elizabethton, Wartburg, etc.
  • Cookeville Regional Medical Center – Cookeville
  • Signature Healthcare – Memphis, Elizabethton, Mountain City
  • Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare – Memphis
  • Heritage Healthcare, Inc. – Madisonville, Waynesboro, Brentwood
  • HealthPRO Management Services – Madisonville
  • Community Health Systems, Inc. – Lexington, Tullahoma, Lebanon, Cleveland, Selmer
  • Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation – Memphis, Germantown
  • Kindred Healthcare, Inc . – Chattanooga, McKenzie, Goodlettsville, Milan

While most physical therapist assistants in Tennessee earn an associate’s degree, those who choose a bachelor’s degree have a higher salary.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Nashville $51,915
Memphis $51,768
Knoxville $51,254
Chattanooga $50,365
Clarksville $50,740
Murfreesboro $51,524
Franklin $51,733
Jackson $51,377
Johnson City $48,619
Hendersonville $51,837

Regional Salary in Tennessee

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Chattanooga, TN-GA240$61,890$29.76$80,340$46,210
Clarksville, TN-KY70$58,760$28.25$83,220$39,850
Johnson City, TN50$60,100$28.9$75,690$45,200
Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA100$59,210$28.47$78,080$41,620
Knoxville, TN360$57,000$27.4$76,870$46,790
Memphis, TN-MS-AR480$62,590$30.09$80,050$48,660
Morristown, TN50$60,560$29.11$75,610$46,990
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN510$63,730$30.64$78,560$49,120
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Physical Therapist Assistants, OCC Code 31-2021, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Additional Information for Physical Therapist Assistants

All licensed physical therapist assistants in Tennessee need to renew their licenses every other year.

For this, they need to complete 20 hours of continuing education (CE).

The Board has set requirements for these CEs:

  • Category 1 – 10 hours minimum
  • Category 2 – 10 hours maximum
  • Ethics – 2 hours (every other renewal period)
  • Jurisprudence – 2 hours (every other renewal period)

To earn credits for the first category, you can perform the following activities:

  • External/internal peer review of practice
  • Courses
  • Seminars
  • Workshops
  • Symposia
  • Home study courses
  • University credit
  • Participation as a presenter in a workshop
  • Authorship of a publication

For the credits in the second category, you can complete the following activities:

  • Self-instruction from reading professional literature
  • Serving as a clinical instructor
  • Participating in a study group
  • Attending in-service programs
  • Serving the Board as a delegate to the APTA House of Delegates

Many recognized organizations offer such activities:

  • American Physical Therapy Association
  • Tennessee Physical Therapy Association
  • Arthritis Foundation
  • Daymar Institute
  • South College
  • Chattanooga State Technical Community College
  • East Tennessee State University

Keep proof of the completed CEs in the case of an audit from the Board.

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