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Monday, October 19, 2020
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PTA program passes 100 percent of grads for licensure


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The streak extends to 21 in a row

Carla Morehouse (left) assists a fellow student during class in this photo from 2019. Program graduates have an excellent track record for passing the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE). In fact, 21 graduating classes in a row have passed to date.
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Texas Border Business

MCALLEN, TEXAS (Aug. 17, 2020) – From day one, students in the Physical Therapist Assistant program at South Texas College are preparing for the test that will allow them to begin working and earning in the field – the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE). 

 Program graduates have an excellent track record for passing the exam. In fact, 21 graduating classes in a row have passed, which is something Department Chair Diana Hernandez is proud of. 

“We’ve been very fortunate to have been able to maintain a 100 percent pass rate,” Hernandez said. “We’ve never had a graduate that could not pass.”

“Upon graduation, they have to sit for the national licensure examination in order to practice as a physical therapist assistant,” she said. “It’s obviously a big deal, as it’s the culmination of two years of hard work and preparation. We begin talking about it as early as the first day of class. Not only are we responsible for teaching students their hands-on skills and techniques, but at the same time we must thread in the knowledge and problem solving necessary for licensure exam success.”

Waiting for the results is always nerve-wracking, and she says the department celebrates the successes as much as the students.

“As faculty and staff, we wait and we wait and we hope, and we’re just as excited as the students are, I think,” Hernandez said. “They certainly put in a lot of time and effort and so do we. I tell them it’s one of my favorite times of the year: Christmas, graduation and the day we get those test results.” 

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The exam is written by physical therapists and physical therapist assistants, representing a broad range of practice settings from all over the country.

“Clinicians and educators actually help write the exam,” she said. “They try to make sure the exam stays up-to-date with practice, so the questions reflect changes that have occurred over the years. As the practice of physical therapy changes, our curriculum does too. So, at the end of the day, our students are prepared, they pass and they have that license in their hand.”

Hernandez said even those students entering the program who struggle with taking exams usually respond well to the tried and proven practices.

“I believe we have a good formula,” she said. “We tell our students to simply trust the process, whether they are comfortable or not with taking examinations. We hit the ground running with timed daily quizzes in every class which serve as mini-assessments and help develop the process of how to answer on the fly. In addition to standard written exams, our lab testing includes oral questioning and discussion; students don’t know exactly what they’re going to be asked but they learn to articulate a good response.”

These are examples of procedures that have been refined over the years and continue to evolve, which make the PTA program a great option for individuals who are looking to start a career helping people.

Physical Therapist Assistants, or PTAs, are licensed skilled health care providers who work under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist. PTAs assist the physical therapist to provide treatment programs to help restore or improve function, relieve pain, encourage independence, and educate patients and their families.

This program has in-person hybrid courses available for Fall 2020. You can learn more about the Fall Instructional Plan athttps://www.southtexascollege.edu/fall20/. For more information about the PTA program, visit https://nah.southtexascollege.edu/pta/.

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