Newport News, Va. (PRWEB) June 04, 2014
The first class of Physical Therapist Assistants graduated from the Riverside School of Health Careers earlier this month (May 13), placing three of the 15 graduates in positions within Riverside Health System physical therapy clinics and programs.
The Riverside Physical Therapist Assistant Program, established in 2012, gives students the opportunity to learn how to treat patients who are recovering from injuries and illnesses and to help them regain movement, build strength and manage pain. PTAs work alongside physical therapists and help provide treatment.
Riverside’s program is the first not-for-profit program offered on the Peninsula.
Students earned an Associate of Applied Science Degree after completing five, 13-week terms and passing the National Physical Therapy Examination, a requirement for all PTAs.
The need for PTAs is on the rise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment growth for PTAs should average 41 percent between 2012 and 2022, with 29,300 new jobs expected to be created based on the country’s aging population.
During the program, students complete 720 hours of clinical experience in several outpatient and inpatient facilities.
“We have the benefit of having the large system for clinical sites and having the expertise of therapists and therapy administrators within the health system that are experts,” said Robin Nelhuebel, Director of Allied Health Programs at the Riverside School of Health Careers.
The Riverside PTA program is rigorous. Earning a spot in it “is competitive because it’s a very well-paying entry-level Associates’ Degree profession,” said Nelhuebel. “It’s nice that they are coming out and find positions.”
Seven of the 15 graduates have already accepted clinical positions in nursing homes, inpatient and outpatient facilities, including those who accepted positions within Riverside Health System.
For Tori Keener, getting into the physical therapy field was first about helping people live better lives.
In physical therapy, “all of the services are working together towards a common goal to help the patient move on to the next phase of their life,” said Keener, one of the program’s first graduates who is now working in Riverside Regional Medical Center’s Acute Care therapy services.
Seeing patients reach that new phase and move well again makes the hard work in the PTA program worth it.
Keener said the intensity of the program, combined with the passion of the teachers and the drive of the students in it, made graduating bittersweet.
“We really became like a family,” Keener said. “We relied on each other for a lot of different things, not just scholarly. I don’t think I would have had that experience anywhere else.”
About Riverside Health System’s Physical Therapy Assistant Program:
The Riverside Health System’s School of Health Careers Physical Therapy Assistant Program was established in 2012 and is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.
Graduates of the program are eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) to become licensed to practice as a Physical Therapist Assistant.
Riverside School of Health Careers is certified to operate in the State of Virginia by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).
For more information about the program, visit http://www.riversideonline.com/rshc/physical-therapist-assistant.cfm.