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Kent State University at Ashtabula Physical Therapist Assistant Program Largest in State

Posted Jan. 10, 2011

The Kent State University at Ashtabula Physical Therapist Assistant Technology program is now the largest in Ohio, with 45 students graduating from the program in 2010. This accomplishment makes the program the largest of the 17 similar programs in the state.

Mike Blake

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, the program was developed so that certified athletic trainers could utilize the knowledge and skills obtained during 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," says Mike Blake, director of the Kent State Ashtabula program. "Certified athletic trainers can earn credit for what they've already learned. The program is flexible in that it's mostly conducted online and allows student to continue to practice in their current careers," he says.

The transitional option is offered in an online format with students attending on-campus labs twice each semester in a three-day weekend format, and has as few as nine scheduled courses required for completion. The traditional program requires 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," states Blake. "We have students enrolled in the program from Michigan, West Virginia and Indiana, and as far away as North Carolina."

According to employers in the area, not only is the program's size impressive, but also its overall quality.

Mark Stapleton, regional director for Arbor Rehabilitation, is one of those employers. "The Kent State Ashtabula graduates come out ready to work," says Stapleton. "They're very professional, well-prepared and are always eager to learn more." Stapleton, himself a graduate of the first class of the program, oversees Arbor Rehabilitation's northern region, which consists of 11 facilities.

"We currently have eight graduates of the program working for Arbor," Stapleton adds. "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 Kent State Ashtabula graduates hired within six months of graduation has averaged 99 percent over the past three years.

For more information about the program, read the article that appeared in e-Inside.

By Cheryl Games