Physical therapist assistants fulfill an important role in preventive and rehabilitative patient care
The mission of Whatcom's physical therapist assistant (PTA) program is to graduate skilled technical health care professionals who are capable of carrying out treatment programs under the supervision of licensed physical therapists. Curriculum design is oriented to develop skills as well as comprehension of underlying theory, both of which are essential to competent practice.
Apply today to enter Whatcom's award-winning PTA program!
PTA student outcome data
Click here for information on number of applicants, number of graduates, licensing pass rates and employment. "Total applicants" refers to the number of applications received which had all application requirements satisfied on or before the application deadline.
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WCC awarded $583,865 to prepare students for emerging healthcare careers
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Does the PTA program transfer to a baccalaureate institution?The prerequisite classes in the PTA degree will transfer to baccalaureate (four-year) institutions. However, few if any PTA-specific classes will transfer to a 4-year institution. Students planning a doctoral degree in physical therapy should consult an academic advisor to plan an appropriate selection of classes to ensure that all requirements of the transfer institution are met. Students are responsible for finding out the unique requirements of the college or university they plan to attend.
What are the standards to be successful in the PTA program?Students of Whatcom Community College's PTA program must be able to meet these minimum standards (also called essential functions or skills), with or without reasonable accommodation, for successful completion of the program requirements. Students must be capable of meeting these skills requirements in a safe, reliable and efficient manner. There are no substitutes for these essential skills. The applicant must also be able to perform these skills throughout the course of the program. The Essential Functions include skills in five areas:
- Sensory and Motor Function
- Conceptual, Integrative and Qualitative
- Behavioral & Social Skills, Professionalism
It is the policy of Whatcom Community College to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified students with a disability so they can meet these required standards, if requested by the student. Whether or not a requested accommodation is reasonable will be determined on an individual basis and will be provided as long as it does not fundamentally alter the nature of the program, impose undue hardship, expense or difficulty or is unduly disruptive to the educational process. Reasonable accommodation does not mean that students with disabilities will be exempt from certain tasks; it does mean that WCC will work with students with disabilities to determine whether there are ways the college can assist the student toward completion of the tasks.
For additional information, please review this detailed essential functions or skills list.
Are there any special requirements for students in the PTA program?
The on-campus PTA program is full-time, very demanding and requires significant study time. It is highly recommended that students admitted to the program limit their outside obligations, particularly work hours. The first four quarters average 18 hours per week in the classroom with an expectation that students work up to 20 hours per week outside of class on homework assignments. The final quarter is full-time clinical affiliations scheduled at 40 hours per week. The PTA online/hybrid program also requires significant time, as well as having challenges specific to the on-line learning environment. Students should expect to spend 20 to 30 hours per week working on their courses in addition to the weekend labs.
Health care workers are required to have current CPR and First Aid certification, TB tests, measles vaccination and hepatitis immunization. Many students are also required to undergo drug screening and a national criminal history background check. Students are required to have these completed and current before entering into their clinical experiences.
Uniforms are not necessary, although some clinics require a lab jacket for clinical experiences. The student is responsible for dressing according to each clinical site's dress code. Information regarding dress codes will be available before the first day of clinical placement. A name tag and a watch with a second hand are also required for each clinical experience.
What can I do to learn more about online learning and whether the online/hybrid program may be a good fit for me?
Check out the eLearning Student Tutorials and Resources for information on what to expect and how online learning works.
Take the SmarterMeasure Survey for online learning. The login is 'WCC-Students' and the password is 'orca1'. Be sure to allow at least 30 minutes to complete the assessment.
Contact an academic advisor for more information on Whatcom Community College's PTA online/hybrid program. By phone at 360-383-3080 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I take my PTA prerequisites online?
Yes! Many prerequisites are offered through Whatcom Community College, Washington Online and other colleges outside of Washington State. Check with the an academic advisor at email@example.com or 360-383-3080, to make sure a prerequisite course will transfer to the PTA program.
Clinical affiliation experiences: How does that work for the PTA online/hybrid program?When possible, your clinical assignments will be held in your local area. However, depending on the availability of physical therapy experiences, you may have to commute or travel outside your local area. You will be expected to get experience in both inpatient (hospital, long-term care, etc.) and outpatient clinic settings the same as all other PTA students in our on-campus program. Students are not assigned to clinical sites for which they currently work.
How does the PTA online/hybrid program work?This program is a hybrid program because only a 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 online portion of the program requires that you have access to a computer and the Internet. Faster connections to the Internet are extremely helpful. To be successful in this program you must have the ability to perform basic computer functions like word processing, file management and email with attachments. Self-discipline, organization and time-management skills are especially critical for online learning.
How often will labs be held each quarter for the PTA online/hybrid program?Labs will occur about three times per quarter for two to three days each. Generally, the days will be Saturday, Sunday and/or Monday. The complete schedule will be given to you ahead of time for planning purposes. WCC does not have on-campus housing, so finding accommodations is your responsibility. The Bellingham/Whatcom County Tourism website (www.bellingham.org) is a good place to start.