The Kent State University at Ashtabula Physical Therapist Assistant Technology program (PTST) is now the largest in Ohio, with 45 graduates of the program in 2010. This makes it the largest of the 17 similar programs in the state.
Enrollment in the program has almost doubled due in large part to a new transitional program offered for certified athletic trainers, which is the first and only accredited program of its kind in the country. Launched in June, 2009, it was developed so certified athletic trainers could utilize the knowledge and skills obtained in their athletic training degree to obtain degrees as physical therapist assistants.
"This transitional program, designed specifically for certified athletic trainers, can be completed in only 14 months as opposed to the typical two years to obtain a Physical Therapist Assistant degree," said Mike Blake, director of the Ashtabula Campus PTST program. "Certified Athletic trainers can earn credit for what they’ve already learned. The program is flexible in that it’s mostly online and allows them to continue to practice in their current careers," he said.
The transitional option is offered in an online format with students attending on-campus labs twice each semester in a 3-day weekend format, and has as few as 9 scheduled courses required for completion. The traditional KSU PTST program has 24 courses over two years.
"Since the majority of the coursework is online, and requires students to be on campus for only two weekends a semester, we’ve been able to attract students from a wider geographic area," stated Blake. "We have students from Michigan, West Virginia, Indiana, and as far away as North Carolina."
According to employers in the area, it is not only the size of the PTST program that is impressive, but its overall quality as well.
Mark Stapleton, Regional Director for Arbor Rehabilitation, is one of those employers. "The Kent State Ashtabula graduates come out ready to work," said Stapleton. "They’re very professional, well-prepared and are always eager to learn more." Stapleton, a graduate of the first class of the PTST program, oversees the Arbor Rehabilitation’s Northern Region, which consists of eleven facilities.
"We currently have 8 graduates of the KSUA PSTA program working for Arbor," Stapleton stated. "And three of them are in management positions."
In addition, pass rates, which are the percentage of students in a graduating class taking the state boards and passing on the first attempt, have been consistently above the national average. The percentage of Ashtabula Campus graduates hired within six months of graduation has averaged 99 percent over the past three years.