Physical Therapist Assistant Program Yields Successful Prognosis for Graduates

Published on: May 20, 2014

Physical Therpists at work
As a physical therapist assistant, Amanda Hudson focuses on treatment intervention with patients while under the supervision of a physical therapist. Hudson is a graduate of LSC-Montgomery's physical therapist assistant program and currently works as such at Texas Orthopedic Hospital in Houston.

Graduates of Lone Star College-Montgomery’s physical therapist assistant (PTA) program are entering a vigorous healthcare field, securing high-paying jobs, and setting themselves up for a lifelong career helping others. In fact, Dr. Renee Pruitt, PTA program director at LSC-Montgomery, estimated that 75 percent of physical therapist assistants in the local area are graduates of LSC-Montgomery’s program.

Physical therapists examine, evaluate, diagnose, treat and provide patient prognoses; however, physical therapist assistants work under the supervision of physical therapists, focusing on treatment intervention, Pruitt said.

Admission into LSC-Montgomery’s PTA program is competitive, and past graduates have passed national licensing boards at a remarkable rate of 100 percent.

According to Pruitt, it’s the highly-motivated students with an aptitude for science that have found success through the program. A typical student, she said, is generally intrigued by how the human body’s muscles and bones move, “from the gymnast on the balance beam to the elderly person getting out of bed.”

“Many of our students wish to spend the majority of their time treating patients,” Pruitt said. “They are people who want to take an active role in someone’s recovery, whether from trauma, disease or injury.”

Some choose the PTA program because it is less costly and takes much less time to complete than doctoral physical therapist programs. Plus, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are nearly three physical therapist assistant job openings in Texas for every applicant, which means graduates can land high-paying jobs in less time.

Amanda Hudson
Amanda Hudson, a first-generation college student, found LSC-Montgomery's physical therapist assistant program to be her "fast-track ticket" to career in helping others. She currently works at Texas Orthopedic Hospital in Houston and will begin a doctoral physical therapy program at Texas Women's University this year.

Such was the case with Amanda Hudson, a first-generation college student.

“I was faced with making the decision between seven-plus years to become a physical therapist or two years to become a physical therapist assistant,” said Hudson, who currently works as a physical therapist assistant at Texas Orthopedic Hospital in Houston. “LSC-Montgomery was my fast-track ticket to getting hands on with helping people.”

After graduating from the course and working in the field, she ultimately enrolled and was accepted into a doctoral physical therapy program at Texas Women’s University. Although it was an unconventional route, she has no regrets.

“Look where it has taken me,” she said.

LSC-Montgomery’s PTA program has been in existence for 18 years and boasts three tenured full-time, doctoral-prepared professors, as well as two adjunct professors. Pruitt has been a professor for 11 years; Dr. Nanette Meyer, clinical coordinator, has been a faculty member for 14 years, and Dr. Linda Carlson has been a professor for 8 years. All worked as physical therapists before choosing to teach, bringing unique strengths and teaching styles to the program.

“By triangulating those strengths, students get very well-rounded perspectives on each different topic,” Pruitt said.

“Dr. Pruitt, Dr. Meyer, and Dr. Carlson embraced each student’s personality and facilitated us to grow in our own unique ways,” Hudson agreed. “They wouldn’t always give us the answers; they’d encourage us to brainstorm and think critically while using the proper resources. That was probably the most valuable lesson they taught us and one that has made me very successful in tending to a vast variety of patients.”

The PTA program is a rigorous, five-semester course of study. Students who have successfully mastered general education courses at any of the campuses in the Lone Star College System have historically been the most successful in gaining admittance. Only 30 students are accepted each year, ensuring a low teacher-to-student ratio and encouraging camaraderie among students. 

“We became a very tight family,” Hudson said.

While some enrollees are traditional students, others have already earned bachelor’s degrees. Students are racially and ethnically diverse; nationally, Pruitt said, nearly 50 percent of all physical therapist assistants are male. This divergent group shares a desire to be “cheerleaders” for their patients’ progress, Meyer said.

LSC-Montgomery’s PTA program is accredited through the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education and concentrates on “the depth and breadth of knowledge that is required to pass the national exam,” Pruitt said. Students often praise the program, she said, because they pass the national exam and feel knowledgeable as they embark on their careers.

Hudson agreed wholeheartedly.

“Not only did Lone Star College’s PTA program teach me all the skills I needed to succeed in our profession, but it developed my confidence in being successful.”

For more information about LSC-Montgomery’s PTA program, visit www.LoneStar.edu/physical-therapist-assistant-dept-montgomery.

LSC-Montgomery is located at 3200 College Park Drive, one-half mile west of Interstate 45, between Conroe and The Woodlands. For more information about the college, call 936.273.7000, or visit www.LoneStar.edu/montgomery.

Lone Star College System has been opening doors to a better community for 40 years. Founded in 1973, LSCS remains steadfast in its commitment to student success and credential completion.  Today, with 78,000 students in credit classes, and a total enrollment of more than 90,000, Lone Star College System is the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area and one of the fastest-growing community college systems in the nation.  Dr. Richard Carpenter is the chancellor of LSCS, which consists of six colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, LSC-Tomball and LSC-University Park, seven centers, LSC-University Center at Montgomery, LSC-University Center at University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.