College of Health Sciences

Physical Therapist Assistant

Learn the necessary skills to help those in need at in any stage in life

The goal of the Physical Therapist Assistant program at Finlandia University is to enable the graduate to function effectively as a physical therapist assistant in any practice setting.

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Finlandia is proud to offer the only PTA program in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Our fully equipped PTA lab focuses on hands-on learning and allows students the opportunity work with modalities they would see in a clinic setting. Even with the distinction, Finlandia’s PTA program boasts a 6 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio ensuring our students are taught using proper techniques and form when working with patients.

The healthcare industry in the U.P. is growing. Home health agencies are proliferating due to the large elderly population. Acute-care hospitals are changing to “systems,” which provide physical therapy at all levels. Nursing homes are seeking (often through contracts) skilled rehabilitation services.

Physical therapy is a profession within the healthcare industry which promotes optimal human health and function. The licensed physical therapist assistant applies scientific principles to prevent, identify, alleviate, correct, or reduce acute or prolonged movement dysfunction.


The accelerated PTA program gives exceptional students the choice to complete their degree in five semesters; two semesters of general education classes and three semesters of PTA technical training.


In addition to academic coursework, clinical education is a significant part of the physical therapist assistant’s education, helping the student apply the learned skills, professional behaviors and academic knowledge to the practice of physical therapy.

The Finlandia University PTA program has a strong clinical education component with an emphasis on rural healthcare experiences and flexible clinical locations. During clinical education, PTA students complete 14 weeks of full-time clinical experience at three different clinical affiliation sites, totaling 560 hours of on-site clinical experience before they graduate. Students are required to gain exposure to diverse physical therapy settings and patient populations as well as multiple pathological conditions.

Alumni Spotlight: Catlin Siegel


Students interested in advancing their associates degree into a bachelor’s degree, like Catlin, have the opportunity to enroll in Finlandia’s 2+2 completion degrees.

Healthcare Management or Sports Management

Tailored for students who have completed an associate degree in the physical therapist assistant program, the two-year BBA in either Healthcare Management or Sports Management builds a solid business background. This is a great option for student-athletes looking to compete in a sport while furthering their education.

Liberal Arts with a Focus in Pre-DPT/Pre-Med

This 2+2 program was designed specifically for students who are interested in continuing their education to obtain a Doctor of Physical Therapy or Medical Doctor license. It has been carefully crafted so students complete all pre-requisites for a DPT or Medical program while at Finlandia, saving students time and money.


“The learning environment is great because the small class sizes really help you not feel overwhelmed and the lab gives you the chance to work hands-on while the teachers give you one-on-one attention. Those are the big advantages of this program.”

Amber Rude, Current PTA Student



Other PTA programs place students on a waitlist. Currently, the physical therapist assistant  program does not have a waitlist. Once the January 1st application deadline has passed, we accept  students on a space available basis for the upcoming year. Students interested will then be placed on a one-year or two-year track provided all admission requirements have been met.




Another great benefit of a physical therapist assistant degree is the range of patient interaction experienced in the workforce. Unlike athletic trainers who work closely with athletes, physical therapist assistants tend to work with athletes and individuals of all ages with varying injuries and illnesses. Athletic trainers must also pursue a higher degree than a physical therapist assistant, which means a PTA degree can be completed in a shorter amount of time.



College of Health Sciences- Finlandia University
New College of Health Sciences building renovations to be completed for Fall 2020

June 23, 2020

The former Hancock High School (featured pre-renovation) will be the new location for FinnU’s College of Health Sciences beginning in Fall 2020.

Finlandia’s College of Health Sciences will have a new home in time for the Fall 2020 semester. After nearly a decade, renovations on the old Hancock High School building on Quincy Street finally commenced at the beginning of the year. After a slight delay due to the Covid-19 outbreak, construction has resumed this summer and the […] Read More

College of Health Sciences Donates PPE to Local Organization for Covid-19 Efforts

April 01, 2020

The Finlandia University College of Health Sciences is assisting in the fight against Covid-19 by donating supplies, usually reserved for class instruction, to local organizations. The CHS donated over 2800 gloves and 170 masks in addition to caps, gowns and hand sanitizer to Gardenview Assisted Living & Memory in Calumet as they work to protect their residents and staff.

“These supplies are so appreciative,” said Executive Director of Gardenview Adam Gill. “They will help us tremendously in continuing to […] Read More

PTA 2+2
FinnU’s New 2+2 PTA Program

February 14, 2020

On this episode of Finlandia Fridays host, Olivia Myers is joined by senior Jayson Dahlquist and administrative coordinator for clinical education, Nicole Polakowski. The group discussed the new PTA 2+2 program that allows students to receive their associate’s degree in PTA and continue on to receive their bachelor’s in Liberal Studies. With this program students the opportunity to move on a Doctor of Physical Therapy program if they choose.

“The 2+2 came about because of students like […] Read More

2 Year Progress Sheet

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3 Year Progress Sheet

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PTA Handbook 2019-20

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PTA Handbook for Clinical Educators

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The Classes

Course Descriptions


Upon successful completion of the PTA program at Finlandia University, the PTA graduate will demonstrate the values and behaviors recognized by the APTA that most influence the PTA in providing safe, effective patient care as a member of the physical therapy team for the following:

  1. PTA Concentration: Succeeds in qualifying for licensure/certification/registration where required by state law.
  2. Creative Insight: Integrates knowledge of basic sciences and physical therapy (PT) theory to appropriately apply and modify selected PT procedures to diverse populations under the supervision of a physical therapist.
  3. Communication: Communicates effectively with patients, supervisors, support personnel, and other health care team members using suitable verbal, non-verbal, and written skills. These skills will reflect:
    • Altruism, integrity, compassion and caring
    • The importance of PT/PTA collaboration in effective patient care delivery
  4. Analytic and Critical Thinking: Incorporates sound clinical reasoning and problem solving to interpret the plan of care prescribed by the PT.
  5. Personal Perspective: Possesses the necessary professional behaviors to practice as a physical therapist assistant in a variety of practice settings. These professional behaviors include the following:
    • Commitment to Learning/Use of Constructive Feedback
    • Interpersonal Skills
    • Communication Skills
    • Critical Thinking/Problem-Solving
    • Stress Management/Effective Use of Time and Resources
    • Professionalism/Responsibility
  1. Global Perspective: Demonstrates an understanding and appreciation for diverse cultures and individual differences when delivering care to patients and acknowledges social responsibility as a healthcare provider.

PTA Program Application Process

We make the application process as easy as possible. The entire process is completely free.

Step One: Your first step is to apply for admission by filling out the free application at
Step Two: Once accepted, you must fill out this PTA Program application (PDF) and submit it to Anne Halgren.

Minimum Requirements for PTA Program

– Achieved a grade of 2.0 (C) (or above) in all prerequisite courses (listed below) completed to date (excluding BIO 171 & 172 or equivalent).
– Achieved a grade of 2.7 (B-) (or above) in BIO171 or equivalent I have achieved a grade of 2.7 (B-) (or above) in BIO172 or equivalent.
– Achieved a cumulative 2.5 GPA in the required prerequisite courses completed to date.

Other notes

– Most incoming freshmen will do complete the PTA application during their time as a student. Some transfer students complete this prior to starting at FinnU, please work with your admissions officer / PTA staff to determine the right timing for you.
– You must meet the minimum requirements (listed above), or be in the process of completing the minimum requirements, for admission. Your application will be considered only if you have completed all the minimum requirements or have completed BIO 171 (Anatomy & Physiology I) or an equivalent course and are registered in the remaining courses.
– The deadline for this application is January 1 of the year that you intend to enter the technical phase of the PTA program, not before a student begins at Finlandia. Those interested should apply early as there are a limited number of positions available in the PTA Program.
– Prerequisite courses include BIO171 Anat. / Physiology I (4 credits), BIO172 Anat. / Physiology II (4), ENG103 College English I (3), ENG104 College English II (3) Religion/Finnish Elective (3), MAT140 Intermediate Algebra (4) (or above), PHL212 Ethics: Theory & Practice (3), PSY101 Introductory Psychology (3), HSC112 Medical Terminology (1) and *PTA101 Intro to P.T. (1)
– *PTA 101 Introduction to Physical Therapy may be taken concurrently with first semester PTA classes. However, because of the demands of the PTA program, it is highly recommended it be taken as a prerequisite.


ClassGraduation RatesEmployment Rates of graduates, who sought employment, that were employed (full-time or part-time) as PTAs within 1 year of graduation (2 year averages)


The Physical Therapist Assistant degree program at Finlandia University is accredited through 2023 by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE):
1111 North Fairfax Street | Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Telephone: (703) 706-3245 |Email:  


If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call (906)487-7308 or email

CAPTE grants specialized accreditation status to qualified entry-level education programs for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants. CAPTE is listed as a nationally recognized accrediting agency by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Specialized accreditation is a system for recognizing professional education programs for a level of performance, integrity, and quality that entitles them to the confidence of the educational community and the public they serve. Accreditation status signifies that the program meets established and nationally accepted standards of scope, quality, and relevance. Once awarded accreditation status, a program must submit reports regularly to the Commission ensuring continuing compliance with the evaluative criteria. Each program is formally reviewed every five to 10 years.


National Physical Therapist Assistant Exam
Based on information received from The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT)

PTA Program graduate passing rate: (2 year average 2017-18): 79%


To file a complaint with the Finlandia University PTA program, please refer to procedures outlined in the document found here.


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Faculty and Staff

Pam Brown

PTA Program Chair/Assistant Professor

Anne Halgren

Administrative Assistant, Physical Therapist Assistant Program, Medical Assistant Program, Medical Billing and Coding Program

Pieter Nieuwenhuis

Adjunct Instructor PTA program - Physical Therapist

Nicole Polakowski

Administrative Coordinator for Clinical Education, PTA
Safe Open Plan Fall 2020Latest Updates
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