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Massive success for MCC Physical Therapist Assistant students, faculty

Mohave Wire

Physical therapist assistant students in classroom
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One hundred percent is often heard when people talk about the Mohave Community College Physical Therapist Assistant program.

For the third year in a row, 100% of the college PTA students passed the national board exam on their first attempt. 

For the fifth year in a row, 100% of the college PTA students landed jobs after graduation.

In the past year, two PTA students scored 100% on the national board exam. In 2017, Sarah Barbieri scored 800 out of a possible 800 on the exam, and the college just learned 2018 MCC Graduate Michael Albrecht also scored 100%.

“We teach them, train them and get them jobs because that’s what we’re here for,” PTA Program Director Dr. Elizabeth Briere happily told the MCC Board of Governors during the board’s August 10 meeting.

During her presentation, Dr. Briere explained some of secrets behind the success of the program, which went from seeing 58.3% of students pass the national board exam on their first attempt in 2010, to 100% passing just a few years after Briere and Dr. Tamra Coleman took the reins of the MCC program.

Briere told the board that she and Dr. Coleman, MCC clinical coordinator and resident faculty member, strive to get to know each of the students before the students even take their first PTA class.

“This helps us with early intervention because Dr. Coleman and myself are then able to quickly notice if a student might be struggling and we work with them immediately,” said Dr. Briere.  “We find out if the issue is studying, work, or family and then we work with the student.”

Physical therapist assistant students in classroom

Dr. Tamra Coleman, MCC resident faculty, instructing students during physical therapy assistant class at the MCC campus.

While taking PTA classes at the MCC Lake Havasu City campus, students are placed with rehabilitation offices where they gain more insight and expertise, including how professional offices function on a daily basis. 

“We place the students where their strengths will be a benefit,” said Dr. Briere. “For instance, if a student is fluent in Spanish, we will place them in an office that has a higher percentage of Spanish-speaking patients.”

MCC Board of Governors President Phyllis Smith said she has heard a lot of positive feedback from community members who have met the MCC students at the rehabilitation offices.

“I just want to congratulate Liz on these successful years, since she jumped in a few years ago she has brought this program to excellence,” said Smith who lives in Lake Havasu City. “I’m not just a fan of PTA because it’s at the Havasu campus, but it’s hands-on in the community and we hear from people every day how wonderful it is.”

Physical therapist assistants work under a licensed physical therapist and are directly involved in the care of patients who have movement disorders following an injury or illness.

The median annual wage of physical therapist assistants was $57,430 in May 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Physical therapist assistants can work in many environments and in multiple specialty areas such as neurologic, orthopedic, cardiac and pulmonary, sports medicine, geriatric and women’s health.  The spectrum of care ranges from the pediatric to the geriatric patient to help decrease pain, restore movement and improve their quality of life. 

MCC has a fully equipped physical therapy lab and the PTA Faculty are all Doctors of Physical Therapy.

The MCC program accepts 20 students each fall and currently has just one opening remaining for the fall 2018 semester. Classes begin on Monday, August 27.  For more information visit www.Mohave.edu/PTA or call 1-866-MOHAVECC (664-2832).