Physical Therapy School Category: Physical Therapist Assistant Programs
General Program Description
Whatcom Community College offers a two-year Associate in Science Degree Program to prepare PTA’s for immediate employment. The mission of the program is to graduate entry-level physical therapist assistants who possess the knowledge and skill necessary to work under the supervision of the physical therapist while providing safe and competent patient services for the prevention or alleviation of physical impairment. Curriculum design is oriented to develop skills as well as comprehension of underlying theory, both of which are essential to competent practice. There are two program formats available to students; the full-time on campus program and the part-time online/hybrid (expansion) program. The full-time, on campus program begins each fall quarter and is offered in a 1+1 design format: the first year to complete program prerequisites and general education requirements and the second year to complete PTA core classes spanning five consecutive quarters (15 months). The online/hybrid program begins each spring quarter and is a part-time design format: prerequisites and general education requirements typically take one year to complete and then two years to complete the PTA core courses over 9 consecutive quarters. This program is described as a hybrid program because only the lecture portion of it is online. The remainder of the program (labs and clinical experience) is set up in the same way as our on-campus program, but with a different schedule. The PTA program has established a consortium with Pierce College in the more southern area of the state which allows students options of which college lab space they attend. Students in the online/hybrid program are assigned to a site for attendance of lab sections. The prerequisite courses may be completed at another regionally accredited college or university and transferred to WCC. There is a selective application process for entry into the PTA core courses. PTA core courses must be taken in sequence. The curriculum is a rigorous and academically demanding course of study. Both program formats require an average of 25 hours per week outside of class on homework assignments.
Clinical experiences run concurrently with acquisition of skills in in the classroom/lab to enhance overall learning. There are two integrated clinical experiences of 80 hours each and two terminal clinical affiliations of 280 hours each. A variety of clinical experiences are provided including acute care hospitals, rehabilitation agencies, home health care, schools, private practices and skilled nursing facilities. Students are involved in one inpatient and one outpatient setting during the integrated clinical experiences and in one inpatient and one outpatient setting during the terminal clinical affiliations. Weekly clinical discussion classes are included in the clinical experiences to provide the students with the opportunity to problem-solve clinical issues and learn about various clinical experiences from their peers. For the on-campus program, students complete two part-time clinical experiences (one day per week for ten weeks) during the second and third quarters of the program for a total of 160 hours. On-campus students also complete two full-time clinical affiliations (a minimum of 40 hours/week for seven weeks each) during the last program quarter for a total of 560 hours. Students enrolled in the online/hybrid (expansion) program may complete the clinical experiences near their area of residence. Students complete two part-time clinical experiences during the fourth and fifth quarters of the program for a total of 160 hours. Online/hybrid students also complete two full-time clinical affiliations (280 hours each) during the eighth and ninth quarters of the program for a total of 560 hours. The total clinical hours in each format of the program are 720.
There are three full-time and eight part-time faculty. This includes faculty teaching in the on-campus program and faculty teaching in the online/hybrid program. Core faculty to student ratio is 1:12 in both program formats.
Annual enrollment of the college is 10,700 with over 4000 full-time students. The PTA program admits 24 students each fall quarter for the full-time, on campus program and 24 students each spring quarter for the online/hybrid program.
Applicants for the on-campus program and the online/hybrid program must meet the same requirements for admission. Applicants are evaluated on several criteria including minimum of a 2.3 (C+) grade point average of the perquisite courses (however, the overall GPA for the last several years, has averaged a 3.6 or higher for application to the program). Other items considered for selection include PTA Program application (in addition to the Whatcom Community College application), clinical observation hours (minimum 25) with experience verification form, three professional letters of recommendation, personal statement and official copies of all college transcripts to the admissions office at Whatcom Community College. Please refer to the Whatcom Community College PTA Program website for more information.
Ninety-one percent of students admitted to the on-campus program and seventy-eight percent of students admitted to the online/hybrid expansion program completed and graduated from the program. Of those graduating from the on-campus and online/hybrid expansion programs, ninety four percent passed the national licensing exam. Of students seeking employment following graduation from the on-campus and online/hybrid expansion programs, ninety-seven percent were employed (all outcomes are based on a three-year average).
Tuition, fees and financial aid
The average cost of tuition and fees for the 2013-14 academic year is $4,080 for in-state students and $10,115 for out-of-state students. Financial assistance is provided to students who would be unable to attend college without such aid. A comprehensive program of employment, grants, and scholarships is available through federal, state, and institutional funds. For further information please contact the Office of Financial Aid at (360) 383-3010.
Whatcom Community College is located in Whatcom County, a rural area of small towns, dairy farms, and scenic wilderness. The college’s primary population center, the city of Bellingham (population approximately 82,800) is located on Bellingham Bay, and a large natural lake extends into the city limits. The glaciated Cascade Mountains, dominated by 10,800-ft Mt Baker are 35 miles to the east. Skiing, boating, fresh and salt water fishing, hiking, backpacking, and golfing, offer opportunities for year-round outdoor activities. Seattle is 90 miles south, and Vancouver, Canada is 50 miles north. Both locations provide excellent theater, restaurants, and shopping. The college hosts a wide variety of campus clubs and activities. There is a strong focus on student success and service learning across the campus.
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