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McHenry County College Physical Therapy Assistant Program Receives CAPTE Accreditation

The Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) program at McHenry County College (MCC) was recently awarded accreditation by CAPTE, the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.

CAPTE grants specialized accreditation status to entry-level education programs for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants and is nationally recognized by the US Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
The College is one of only about 400 PTA programs nationwide to earn this certification.

“Receiving this accreditation was truly a group effort between faculty, staff, administration, the community, and our students,” said Christen Louderman, PT, DPT, program chair of the PTA program at MCC. “We couldn't have done it without everyone's help and input. This initial accreditation means that all graduating students can now sit for the national licensure exam. This exam is required to gain licensure in every state to work as a physical therapist assistant. The inaugural PTA class, which is set to graduate on December 12, has been participating in the accreditation process with us since they began their journey two years ago. I am so excited for them as they move on to the next step in their careers.”

To receive this certification, the program had to meet standards related to the community/regional need for the program, curriculum and teaching methods, and the College's dedication to the program (including dedicated space, budget, staffing, advisory committee involvement, etc.). The process to receive accreditation has taken about five years.

MCC has been offering their PTA program since 2019. The curriculum prepares students to work in a variety of healthcare settings under the direction of a physical therapist. PTAs are trained to conduct therapeutic exercises, traction, ultrasounds, electrotherapy, balance and gait training, motor learning and development, and patient and family education. In addition to patient/client care, PTAs may also participate in activities related to billing and coding, quality improvement, risk management, and other administrative activities.

“PTA is a great career option for students who have an interest in science and helping others,” said Louderman. “Plus, the job outlook for this profession is growing rapidly. Employment of physical therapist assistants is expected to grow 40 percent nationally through 2024.”

As part of their studies, students use the hands-on PTA lab located at MCC to practice various techniques they learn in class. They also complete four clinical experiences in local facilities working alongside a licensed PT or PTA, giving them plenty of experience applying their knowledge to real patients even before graduating.

“Students this past fall were able to work with faculty/staff and students both on campus and virtually to conduct a free screening clinic and ergonomic assessment. These services not only benefited the patients, but the students as they learned to work in a variety of settings,” added Louderman. “The feedback we received from patients was exceptional!”

To learn more about MCC’s PTA program, visit www.mchenry.edu/pta.