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Physical Therapy Assistant – Innovation and Collaboration


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This session will explain how an increase in demand for Physical Therapy Assistants led Whatcom Community College, located in northwestern Washington, to develop an online version of its Physical Therapy Assistant program. Whatcom Community College then partnered with Yakima Valley Community College and area clinics in eastern Washington to increase opportunities for students and graduates. This award-winning program aimed at increasing the number of PTA graduates in Washington State and now has expanded to include students from not only Eastern Washington, but Oregon, Alaska, and California

Published in: Education, Health & Medicine
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Physical Therapy Assistant – Innovation and Collaboration

  1. 2. Physical Therapist Assistant in High Demand <ul><li>Listed as one of the 30 fastest growing occupations in the US (2008-09 Occupational Outlook Handbook) </li></ul><ul><li>Nationwide: 32.4% projected growth through 2016 (US Department of Labor) </li></ul><ul><li>WA State: 30.2% projected growth through 2016 (Workforce Explorer) </li></ul><ul><li>Wages continue to rise from $14 - $16 up to $20 - $25 with signing bonuses </li></ul>
  2. 3. Growth in Online Learning <ul><li>Nationally: over 3.9 million students taking an online course; growth rate of 12% increase from the previous year (Sloan Foundation 2008 Survey) </li></ul><ul><li>WA State: 9,323 FTE online students in 2004; 18,038 FTE in 2008 </li></ul><ul><li>Whatcom Community College: 911 students in 2004-05 to 1641 students in 2007-08 </li></ul>
  3. 4. History of WCC’s Physical Therapist Assistant Program <ul><li>Traditional campus based program </li></ul><ul><li>Only four PTA Programs in WA State </li></ul><ul><li>Requests from health care clinics for an online PTA Program </li></ul><ul><li>$10,000 research grant for assessment of demand </li></ul>
  4. 5. History Continued <ul><ul><li>Development of online delivery of PTA program February 2005 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Transition of courses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Approval of accreditation for expansion program </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Outreach to potential students </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>First cohort of 17 students -spring quarter 2006 </li></ul></ul>
  5. 6. Online/Hybrid PTA Format <ul><li>Didactic courses in pure online delivery via WAOL (Washington Online) </li></ul><ul><li>Procedural courses with online delivery of didactic material and face to face (hybrid) delivery of practical/hands-on material/skills </li></ul>
  6. 7. Lab Class Format <ul><li>Students meet 3-4 weekends per quarter for 2-3 full 8 hour days in lab </li></ul><ul><li>All practical skills taught, demonstrated, practiced and tested </li></ul><ul><li>All written exams completed during lab weekends </li></ul><ul><li>Agreement with hotel in walking distance for reduced rates for online students </li></ul>
  7. 8. Transition to Online <ul><li>Early adapters and self-learners </li></ul><ul><li>Skeptics and early resistors </li></ul><ul><li>Curriculum challenges </li></ul><ul><li>How to assess? </li></ul><ul><li>Providing accommodations </li></ul><ul><li>Travel and personal interruptions </li></ul><ul><li>Building community </li></ul>
  8. 9. Online Student Support <ul><li>24/7 tech support from Washington Online </li></ul><ul><li>Online resources, iTunes, You Tube, podcasting, Camtasia, Jing, wiki, blog, skills videos </li></ul><ul><li>“ Primal Pictures” – human anatomy </li></ul><ul><li>Group projects </li></ul><ul><li>Instructors respond within 24 hours </li></ul><ul><li>Weekend labs </li></ul><ul><li>Online mentoring </li></ul>
  9. 10. Primal 3D Online Anatomy Software Primal Demo
  10. 11. Collaboration with Yakima Valley Community College <ul><li>Yakima Valley, four hours away over a mountain pass, rural region, high percentage of Latino residents </li></ul><ul><li>Liaison for WCC at Yakima Valley Community College, a federally recognized Hispanic Serving Institution </li></ul><ul><li>Strong interest in Yakima physical therapy community for increased numbers of PTAs </li></ul>
  11. 12. Eastern WA Clinic Partners <ul><li>Maintain an active PT/PTA consortium. </li></ul><ul><li>Donate facilities, equipment and supplies for PTA education. </li></ul><ul><li>Volunteer PT/PTA to serve faculty appointments and be ‘guest speakers’ for specialty skilled lab courses. </li></ul><ul><li>Majority are hiring students and paying for their PTA program in return for 2 years of work upon graduation with great pay and benefits. </li></ul>
  12. 13. Advantages of YVCC Partnership <ul><li>Students in PTA program from Yakima region, able to complete didactic and practical courses in their region </li></ul><ul><li>Increases access </li></ul><ul><li>Students do not need to relocate </li></ul><ul><li>Students can continue working </li></ul><ul><li>Students able to perform clinical education courses in their region </li></ul><ul><li>Community physical therapy business able to hire local students on completion of their course of study </li></ul>
  13. 14. Outcomes and Results <ul><li>First cohort graduated 13 students in 2008 (4 from Eastern WA) </li></ul><ul><li>Second cohort of 23 students will graduate spring 2009 (8 from Eastern WA) </li></ul><ul><li>Third cohort of 27 students will graduate spring 2010 (10 from Eastern WA) </li></ul><ul><li>Fourth cohort of 20 students will graduate spring 2011 (6 from Eastern WA) </li></ul>
  14. 15. Where do our online students live?
  15. 16. Feedback <ul><li>Student feedback: WCC and YVCC </li></ul><ul><li>Clinic feedback: “Things are going great. He is very knowledgeable and has more experience than the physical therapy students that I have had here….I am having difficulty finding any areas that he needs to improve. Thanks for sending him here. We will hate to see him go.” </li></ul><ul><li>Faculty feedback: “I see an increase in critical thinking skills. This is reflected by comments from clinical instructors. I have a huge connection with the students.” </li></ul>
  16. 17. Governor’s Award 2008 <ul><li>Workforce Best Practices Award for leadership and exemplary accomplishment in an initiative in the workforce development system </li></ul>
  17. 18. Inquiries from potential students
  18. 19. Where Are We Now <ul><li>Accreditation process </li></ul><ul><li>New Partnerships </li></ul><ul><li>Alaska: University of Alaska, ASHNHA </li></ul><ul><li>WA State CTCs </li></ul>
  19. 20. Questions?