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October 5, 2013

Blinn’s Physical Therapist Assistant Program hosting info sessions

Program prepares students for high-paying, high-demand health care careers

Blinn College’s Physical Therapist Assistant Program The Blinn College Physical Therapist Assistant Program is currently offering information sessions for students interested in applying to enter the program in Fall 2014.

Info sessions will be held at 6 p.m. Nov. 21 and Jan. 8 at Blinn’s Health Science Center Clinical Building I located at 8441 State Highway 47 in Bryan. The program recommends that all applicants attend one of the info sessions to aid them in completing the extensive application process. Applications for the next cohort will be accepted Jan. 1 – Feb. 28.

Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) help people of all ages with medical problems or health-related conditions that limit their ability to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. Among their responsibilities, PTAs teach patients exercises to improve their mobility, strength and coordination; train patients to walk with crutches, canes or walkers; and provide patient treatments such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, heat, cold and massage.

PTAs are in high demand throughout the nation and the region, and can earn salaries between $55,000 and $70,000 after passing the national licensure exam. A recent U.S. Occupations Employment Statistics Report indicates an approximately zero percent unemployment rate for PTAs, and program graduates can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics or offices, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, education or research centers, schools, hospices, workplace environments, fitness centers and sports training facilities and military settings.

While a physical therapist conducts the initial evaluation and diagnostic testing and develops the patient’s plan of care, the PTA often works one-on-one with the patient to meet the goals set by that plan.

“Our graduates never struggle for job placement and typically have multiple job opportunities,” said Dr. Christy Gantt, program director. “They are in extremely high demand. Over the next 10 years, they are projecting the demand for PTAs to grow by 28 percent, so even in this troubled economy it’s growing at a tremendous rate.”

Many students entering the program have already earned associate or bachelor’s degrees, and some have even earned graduate degrees.

“They’re looking to enter a career field that’s very appealing, that is in very high demand and has extremely high salaries,” Gantt said.

Since the program opened in 1997, every student who has graduated with an Associate in Applied Science degree and taken the national licensure exam has passed.

Blinn College’s Physical Therapist Assistant Program “I heard from many people that this was the best PTA school in Texas, and after doing my own research I definitely came to agree with that,” said Sarah Davis, president of the Student Physical Therapist Assistant Association. “The education is top-notch, the expectations are high and that means the graduating class is extraordinary in the field. When we graduate, we already know how to adapt to unique situations and we’ve developed strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills.”

Students study anatomy, kinesiology and biomechanics and learn which exercises and stretching techniques are best for specific ailments. They also learn to position and move patients and master techniques for teaching patients to use crutches, walkers, wheelchairs and other tools. The program includes 18 weeks of clinical training in the field, and students take multiple practice tests in preparation for their national licensure exam.

Much of the training takes place in the program’s 2,800-square-foot lab located at the College’s Health Science Center.

“I toured a PTA program back home and looked at their facilities, and Blinn has far better equipment,” said first-year student Kelsey Stuhler. “Our lab is top-notch compared to other programs and our professors are extraordinary. They definitely want us to succeed.”

In addition to their coursework, PTA students participate in a number of community service activities. The Student Physical Therapist Assistant Association sponsors a low-income family each Christmas, participates in the Buddy Walk benefitting the National Down Syndrome Society and volunteers at the Special Olympics state meet in Austin, Texas.

For more information or to register for an info session, visit: www.blinn.edu/twe/pta.

PHOTOS – Much of the hands-on training in Blinn College’s Physical Therapist Assistant Program takes place in the 2,800-square-foot lab located at the College’s Health Science Center, where students learn to position and move patients, the proper stretching techniques for specific ailments and master techniques for teaching patients to use crutches, walkers, wheelchairs and other tools.