PTA program looks to improve

November 18, 2011 Latest Print Print


The Physical Therapist Assistant program faculty are looking at this year’s test results with an eye for improvement next time.

On their first try at the national licensure exam, 78 percent of OCCC’s graduates passed in 2010, compared to 85 percent the year before.

Program Director Jennifer Ball said she has been studying the results to figure out what needs to be done to raise the success rate.

One issue she identified was a graduate who waited a full year before taking the exam. That student didn’t pass on the first try.

She said the college’s goal is to have a pass rate higher than the national rate. The national pass rate in 2010 was 82 percent, which has been the same for the past two years.

Nevertheless, Ball said, she felt good about OCCC’s program compared to its state peers.

The PTA program at OCCC has the highest pass rate out of all six schools in Oklahoma that offer the program.

Ball said one adjustment she and the rest of the department are struggling with is the change in the test that occurred in 2007.

When the national test for PTAs changed, all the curriculums across the nation had to change with it, Ball said.

“Since then we have made significant changes with the new information that we have found,” she said. “We also have implemented a comprehensive exam (at the end of the program).”

She said they also offer aids to help students with things like test anxiety.

After seeing the benefit of the comprehensive exam, Ball said, beginning this year all PTA graduates will be required to take it.

During the last two years that they have offered the comprehensive test as an option, the students who did not pass it did not pass the licensure exam either. Ball said the exam is a pretty good predictor on showing how the students will do on the licensure exam. It also shows students where they need to concentrate their studying.

The OCCC Board of Regents monitors the pass rate for all of the college’s health professions programs. They received the totals for the PTA program as part of the “Monitoring Report on Achieving the College’s ENDS: Graduate Success” in October.

Heather Tapp, a current PTA student, is due to take the state licensure exam in May and said she is confident in what she is learning.

“The program here is a really good and solid program,” she said.

Another PTA student, Stefanie Nees, said she too is satisfied with the instruction.

“This is a really good program with a lot of information,” she said. “The faculty is really helpful and wants you to succeed.”

Ball also said the PTA department sets the bar high for themselves and tries to surpass the national pass rate on the first try every time. Their goal is a 100 percent pass rate.

“We try to find the students that need more help and get them the help early on,” Ball said.

Physical therapist assistants work with along with physical therapists in rehabilitating patients who have had surgeries, accidents or other medical issues that require care.

Ball said her program is proud of its 100 percent job placement for graduates. She said some employers work to recruit the PTA students even before they have finished the program. The PTA program accepts 20 students per year from about 90 applications.

For more information about the PTA program, contact Ball at or 405-682-1611, ext. 7305.

To contact Stephanie Luna, email

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