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Physical Therapist Assistant A.A.S.
  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

Invest your time and talents in a career that makes a difference.

Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs) play an important role in helping people regain movement and strength after suffering a debilitating injury, illness or disease. Working closely with licensed physical therapists, PTAs utilize various rehabilitative techniques to help patients control pain and live a more satisfying life. PTAs work in a variety of settings, including clinics, hospitals, nursing homes and schools.

FVCC’s Physical Therapist Assistant program prepares graduates to work under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. Through a combination of classroom lecture, labs and clinical experience, graduates of this program are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to take the licensure exam approved by the Montana Board of Physical Therapy Examiners.


  • Students can complete the Physical Therapist Assistant program in three semesters after completing pre-requisite coursework.
  • After passing the licensure exam approved by the Montana Board of Physical Therapy Examiners, graduates are eligible to work under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.
  • According to a 10-year forecast by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, demand for qualified PTAs is expected to increase 26% through 2028, making it one of the fastest growing health care professions in the country.

Attributes of a Successful Physical Therapist Assistant

  • Ability to maintain high academic and professional standards under rigorous demands
  • Empathetic and caring personality
  • Ability to think critically and solve problems
  • Strong communication, listening and interpersonal skills
  • Physically fit and strong


The PTA program is a structured 1 + 1 format requiring all applicants to complete all of the prerequisite courses prior to acceptance into the on-campus programs. This means that it takes approximately one academic year of specific college prerequisite courses, taken at FVCC or an accredited college of choice, followed by one year of technical coursework. The technical education courses are designed to facilitate the development of clinical decision making skills, psychomotor skills and values-based behaviors required to work under the direction and supervision of the physical therapist. The technical education portion of the program includes lecture, laboratory and clinical experiences to ensure students gain not only the knowledge, but are also able to develop the skills necessary to function in a variety of physical therapy care settings under the direction of a physical therapist.  Upon successful completion of an accredited PTA program, the graduate PTA will be eligible to take the licensure exam approved by the MT Board of Physical Therapy Examiners.

A new class of PTA students begins each year in August.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to restrictions related to Covid 19, the observation hour requirement will be waived for spring 2021 applications. During the face-to-face interview, applicants will be asked about their exposure to the different environments of PT.  If you have not had the opportunity to do observation hours, it is required that you do online research regarding the different settings and delivery methods of physical therapy via www.APTA.org and other sources. Please contact the program director at jheil@fvcc.edu with any questions.

Accrediting Information:

Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Flathead Valley Community College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; telephone: 703-706-3245; email: accreditation@apta.org; website: http://www.capteonline.org. If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 406-756-3373 or email jheil@fvcc.edu.


Student Support Center Advisor

Russ Lamson

LRC 129

(406) 756-3885

Faculty Advisor

Janice Heil

BC 123-C

(406) 756-3373


Julie Robertson

BC 123-D

(406) 756-3620


For general information, contact the Admissions office: (406) 756-3847.

PTA Outcomes

Program Outcomes

  • The Program will graduate competent entry-level physical therapist assistants who function effectively under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist

  • The Program will prepare graduates with the knowledge and technical skills needed to pass the PTA NPTE exam and obtain employment as a licensed PTA who functions under the supervision of a physical therapist.

  • The Program will promote an evidence-based curriculum that supports the mission of FVCC based upon input from the PTA advisory committee, academic faculty, students and clinical instructors.

Graduate Outcomes

  • Graduates will follow a plan of care established by a physical therapist and carry out physical therapy interventions in a safe, ethical and competent manner at entry level.

  • Graduates will demonstrate effective written, oral and nonverbal communication skills with patients, families/caregivers, healthcare providers, peers, third party payers and the public.

  • Graduates will recognize the need for continued personal and professional growth to ensure competence in current practices of physical therapy and a commitment to lifelong learning.

  • Graduates will demonstrate behavioral expectations as established by the APTA in the Value Based Behavior for the Physical Therapist Assistant (January 2011)

  • Graduates will participate as an effective member of the health care team and educate the healthcare community on the respective roles of the PT and PTA.

  • Graduates will show a personal commitment of health and wellness and dedication to service to the profession of physical therapy and the community.

View outcomes by year


FVCC’S PTA program’s mission is to graduate qualified entry level PTA’s who function under the direction and supervision of a licensed PT. Graduates will ensure excellence in patient care by demonstrating competence, critical thinking and compassion. Faculty and graduates will be committed to promoting the health and wellness of local and surrounding communities by demonstrating safe and ethical practice, social responsibility and a personal commitment to professional growth and lifelong learning.