VCs Physical Therapist Assistant program receives accreditation; graduates first class

Recent PTA graduates Amy Roddy, center, and Michelle Cantu, left, work with PTA Program Director Laura Crandall.

Three years ago, Victoria College began developing a Physical Therapist Assistant program to meet the local demand for physical therapist assistants. This month, the PTA program has completed the final stage of the accreditation process and received official accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education of the American Physical Therapy Association.

Also this month, the very first class of Physical Therapist Assistant students will graduate.

“VC’s PTA faculty has done an outstanding job of working to obtain VC’s accreditation for this program so quickly,” said VC President Tom Butler. “Their hard work and dedication is definitely a representation of the quality of instruction at VC.”

Butler also expressed his congratulations to the first class of PTA graduates and recognized their participation in helping establish the program for future students.

The accreditation process has been in progress since 2009 when PTA Program Director Laura Crandall joined VC to help develop the program and assist in the application for accreditation candidacy. The process has included curriculum development, a self-study, and two site visits by the accrediting agency. The PTA program’s accreditation candidacy application was submitted in 2010. The formal accreditation site visit occurred this past February followed by official accreditation this month.

“Throughout the three-year process of challenging and rewarding work toward accreditation, [PTA Clinical Education Coordinator] Sam Suggett and I have made it our goal to create a quality program that will produce exceptional physical therapist assistants,” said Crandall. “We are very proud of our first graduating class, and we look forward to working with them as professionals in the future.”

After the approval for accreditation candidacy was received, VC admitted 17 students into the program in the fall of 2010.

Physical therapist assistants work to help people of all ages who have medical problems, or other health-related conditions that limit their ability to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. VC’s PTA program curriculum includes academic prerequisites along with specialized classes and clinical rotations.

Students in the first class have been working in local physical therapy clinics to fulfill their clinical requirements, and many intend to continue working locally after graduation. Completion of the program has taken two years for this first graduating class, who will now sit for a state-mandated licensure exam.

Two PTA students graduating this month, Chelsea Harjes and Rachel Baker, have already been hired by Bruce Ryan of Crossroads Physical Therapy­.

“Across the board, VC’s students from this first class are above average and well-prepared for licensure,” said Ryan. “I think VC’s instructors are really exceptional and the facilities are by far top in the country.”

Harjes credits both Crandall and Suggett for the success of the program.

“I would definitely say the instructors are what make VC’s program exceptional,” said Harjes. “During these first two years, they have both been very flexible and have always been there for us.”

Baker attributes her success to the one-on-one attention she has received in the program.

“The personal relationship between instructors and students has made a big difference for me,” said Baker. “Because this program is small, we have gotten a lot of one-on-one time, and the instructors are very dedicated to the program.”

Meeting the local demands for physical therapist assistants is what makes soon-to-graduate Stephen Rubio most proud. Rubio was hired to work in the physical therapy department at Citizens Medical Center after graduation.

“I’m proud to have been one of only 17 students to be the first to complete this flagship program that is so vital in our community,” said Rubio. “I worked hard to get here, and it is definitely an honor to have been a part of the first class.”

Ryan said that Crandall and Suggett’s work to get VC’s program accredited has been crucial in helping fill the community’s demand for physical therapist assistants.

“Before VC’s program, Victoria was in a void between Wharton and Corpus Christi,” said Ryan. “And this program couldn’t come at a better time as our local medical community will need to grow in response to new business and industry coming into our area.”


posted on Thursday, May 17, 2012 by Katy Long

Published: Thursday, 17 May 2012

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