Over the past several years, Patrick Henry Community College [PHCC] has been working to develop a Physical Therapist Assistant [PTA] program – the first of its kind in the region. Now, the college is ready to launch the first PTA class in January. The college is currently accepting applications through November 25.
Receiving candidacy for accreditation from the national and regional accrediting bodies has been long process. The college began laying the foundation for the new program in 2016 when the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission provided the college with a nearly $95,000 grant to offset the program’s startup costs. With those funds, the college immediately started working to build the curriculum, gather the equipment, hire personnel, and submit the paperwork for accreditation.
In April 2019, the prospective program was scheduled for the final review from the national accrediting body. However, at the time the program was deemed not ready to launch. In late October, PHCC was given the opportunity to appeal for reconsideration. On Wednesday, November 13, the college received the good news. The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education [CAPTE] announced that PHCC’s Physical Therapist Assistant program has been granted candidacy for accreditation and the college has been approved to begin accepting applications.
Dr. Greg Hodges, the college’s Vice President of Academic & Student Success Services described the college’s response to the decision. “PHCC is thrilled that CAPTE has reversed its initial decision to deny candidacy to PHCC’s Physical Therapist Assistant program. The team worked tirelessly over the last several months to ensure that this program is high quality, complies with accreditation requirements, and meets regional workforce demands. We are excited to enroll our first cohort of students in January.”
The initial idea for a PTA program was born from research that revealed the need for the program in this area. Now, the college will be able to meet that need. According to Virginia Employment Commission data, PTA is a growing field in the Martinsville area offering an average annual salary of $58,471. Several area PTA employers have already expressed interest in partnering with the new program and will likely be willing to provide job shadowing opportunities, internships, and job interviews.
In the past, those interested in becoming a physical therapist assistant had to leave the area to pursue training. The closest community college offering the PTA program in Virginia is approximately two hours away from Martinsville. Starting in January, this training will be only minutes away.
“We are so excited to begin accepting applicants,” says the program director Dr. Julie Martin. “I have spoken with so many students who have been waiting for a physical therapist assistant program. Now, these students won’t have to leave the area to pursue their chosen career.”
For those interested in PTA classes and wanting to learn more about the coming program, contact Dr. Martin the PTA Program Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or 276-656-0288..