Wytheville Community College

November 14, 2017

WCC PTA Graduates Reach 100 Percent Pass Rate on Exam

The Wytheville Community College (WCC) Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) program graduates of 2017 recently completed their licensure exam with a 100 percent pass rate, as of Oct. 12. 

These fourteen students passed the National Physical Therapist Assistant licensure exam, a requirement to work in the health care field as a Physical Therapist Assistant. Typically, the benchmark pass rate for the program ranges around 85 percent.        

“We simply had some very determined, hard workers in this year’s class,” said Julia Jackson-King, Program Head and Associate Professor of the Physical Therapy Assistant program at WCC. Jackson-King also attributes the recent high success rate to the opportunity WCC students have to take board review classes on WCC’s campus at a reduced cost. Her program spends time trying to create assessment tools similar to what students will experience when taking the actual test. “This helps to diminish anxiety and provide our students with a more affable testing atmosphere.”

WCC’s two-year PTA program—one of the few in Virginia and the only one in the region—is designed to prepare students with the knowledge to become trained technical health care workers who can assist physical therapists in meeting the physical therapy needs of the public. These needs include improving patient mobility, relieving pain, and lessening the functional limitations that occur as a result of physical disability. This profession also includes health and wellness promotion, public education, and injury and disability prevention.

“Here at WCC, we are helping to prepare not only competent practitioners, but also caring practitioners,” said WCC PTA Instructor Kim Slemp. “We hear about the successes of our students in the community from patients who’ve worked with our program graduates.”

 Once PTA students graduate and pass the licensure exam, they have changed their lives for the better, explained Jackson-King, who has been teaching PTA at WCC for 13 years. Often students come into the PTA program looking for a second, third, or even fourth new start because demand for their prior degree or skill set simply no longer exists.

“Our program provides more than just a degree and a job; it provides hope. These graduates have a long-term career path, and they can now independently support themselves. Having that financial stability can often help create a way out of sometimes unfortunate circumstances. They are set for life with this career, and it only requires a two-year educational commitment” explained Jackson-King.

But those who are interested in becoming a PTA student should understand that two-year program is challenging. Students in PTA commit to a full-time health care curriculum with the highest standards of academic rigor. In the end, students find that the sacrifice is worth the time and effort invested.

Recent graduate Britney Terry agrees. She was able to find a job three weeks after graduating from WCC and now works as a PTA at Carilion Clinic.

“I arrive at my job every morning being thankful that I was accepted into the program and successfully completed it. Julie and Kim are wonderful instructors; having been PTs themselves, they can share valuable stories and insight to help make you a better PTA. They bend over backwards to ensure not only that you ‘learn’ the material, but that you have a thorough understanding of it. They not only make sure you are doing well at school, they are also concerned of your well-being outside of school, which means a lot,” said Terry.

Not only are graduates prepared for a new career that is in high demand with salaries ranging anywhere from $40,000-$65,000 or more, the WCC PTA program also hopes to inspire more than just patient care. The career path offers a living wage, as well as a healthy, flexible and stable work environment. Even within the profession, physical therapist assistants have a wide variety of patient care options, ranging from working with children to the elderly and from sports medicine to management. Even the employment settings vary from outpatient clinics, acute care hospitals, long-term care and skilled care facilities, rehabilitation centers, home health care agencies, contracting agencies and corporations, and school systems. WCC’s graduates can find employment as a physical therapist assistant locally or anywhere in the country.

 WCC’s PTA program is a selective admission program, and deadline for application to the 2018 program is February 15, 2018. For more information on the PTA at WCC or making application to the program, please contact Jackson-King at (276) 223-4721 or email jjacksonking@wcc.vccs.edu.

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PHOTO: WCC PTA Class of 2017

Front Row, L to R:  Kim Slemp, Instructor; Elizabeth Battaglia; Mikayla Montgomery; Breanna Nichols; Stacey Owen; Britney Terry; Tori Stanley; Jennifer Williams; Julia Jackson King, Instructor.

Back Row, L to R:  Jarrod Key; William Sturgill; Jonathan Nelson; Jordan Laningham; Cody Radford; Daniel Bowman; Alan Strealy.