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School of Health Professions :: Programs of Study

Physical Therapist Assistant :: Program Policies

Students may find more in-depth information regarding program policies in the Prospective Student Packet, and if admitted into the program, students will be provided with information regarding all program policies. Upon admission, students are expected to follow all program policies, even those not included here or in the Prospective Student Packet.

Click on a policy to read more information.

>> Attendance & Schedules:

  • The PTA program is a full-time professional program with classes typically scheduled on weekdays and during daytime hours, however late afternoon and evening may need to be scheduled to accommodate faculty availability. Students may be subjected to variations in class schedules and will be provided with as much notice as is possible to allow for personal schedule adjustments. Students may be required to complete class activities, field trips, or clinical experiences during evening or weekend hours, so students should keep this in mind when planning for successful program completion.
  • During the program, students will complete 3 full-time clinical experiences. Students should expect to work full-time (approximately 40 hours/week) during these experiences which are three, six, and eight weeks. Physical therapy departments are only staffed during “day shift”, so students should expect to work during typical daytime work hours during these clinical rotations. Student schedules will vary based on their clinical placement and no schedule can be guaranteed.
  • Except for excused absences, such as illness or family emergencies, it is required that students attend all PTA lecture classes, lab sessions, and associated activities. Students are expected to arrive to class on time and remain for the full class session. Excessive tardiness or leaving class early will be documented in the student’s professionalism feedback and may result in point deductions. Students who are unable to meet attendance standards may also be dismissed from the program.

>> Clinical Education Portion of Program:

  • The clinical education portions of the PTA program are an exciting time when students are able to take what they are learning in the classroom and apply it in clinical settings while working with patients, other PTAs and PTs, and various members of the healthcare team. Included in the program are 3, 6, and 8 week, full-time clinical experiences.
  • Clinical education experiences may take place at a variety of clinical sites throughout Central and Southwest Virginia. Therefore, it is required for students to have access to a reliable source of transportation during their clinical education experiences. Students may be asked to drive up to 90 minutes away from their home in order to reach their assigned clinical education site.
  • During the program, students will complete 3 full-time clinical experiences. Students should expect to work full-time (approximately 40 hours/week) during these experiences which are three, six, and eight weeks. Physical therapy departments are only staffed during “day shift”, so students should expect to work during typical daytime work hours during these clinical rotations. Student schedules will vary based on their clinical placement and no schedule can be guaranteed.
  • Students must complete all health requirements as outlined in the “Health Requirements” sections of this page. Inability to meet program health requirements may lead to program probation or dismissal.

>> Grading Policies:

  • Grading for PTA courses (those with a PTH prefix) will be based on a 7-point grading scale.
    • A= 93-100%, B= 86-92.99%, C= 77-85.99%, D= 69-76.99%, F= below 68.99%
  • A grade of “C” or better is required in all PTH and support courses in order progress through the program.
  • Students must achieve a 77% average on all written tests in PTA courses before quiz or project grades will be added into a course grade and all assignments must be submitted in order to receive a grade in the course. When final grades are to be posted for a course, if a student has any missing assignments per the Canvas gradebook, the student will receive an “F” for that course.
  • Throughout the program students will demonstrate their understand of course material using written methods (such as tests, quizzes, or assignments) and through demonstration of hands-on skills.
  • Hands-on skills will be tested using both skills checks and more comprehensive lab practical examinations. In the field of physical therapy, being able to accurately and safely perform hands-on skills is equally important to demonstrating knowledge, therefore, students must pass all skills checks and lab practicals in order to pass a course. The number of attempts to successfully demonstrate skills is limited, therefore, practicing hands-on skills is an important part of the studying process of a PTA student.

>> Health Requirements:

  • Once admitted, students will be required to complete a number of health requirements in order to begin the program and/or clinical rotations. Inability to complete any of the requirements listed below will bar a student from either starting the program or completing clinical rotations, and therefore not completing the requirements of the program. Students with any concerns regarding the following requirements should speak with the Program Director prior to entering the program, or as soon as possible following any change in status. The health requirements are as follows:
    • Documentation of current vaccinations including: MMR series (or titer), Hepatitis B series (or titer/declination), Varicella series (or titer), (TDAP) Absorbed Diphtheria Tetanus and Pertussis within last 10 years, annual TB testing/screening, Influenza (annual)
    • Physical examination completed by a physician, nurse practitioner, or physicians’ assistant. Examination should be completed within three months of starting the program and the required form submitted to the Program Director by the first day of classes in a student’s first semester.
    • Current BLS for Healthcare Providers from the American Heart Association (must contain hands on training for infant, child, adult and AED)
    • Drug screen
    • Background check
  • Students should note that any positive findings on completed drug screens or background checks may immediately dismiss a student from the program.
  • Students are solely responsible for paying for any medical care which is rendered to the student throughout the student’s enrollment in the program. This includes any care which may be required due to an injury or infectious disease exposure which may occur during classroom or clinical activities. It is advised that students carry health insurance to defray the costs of medical care, and health insurance will be required for participation in clinical education experiences. There is no health clinic on campus, however, emergency and non-emergency health services are available nearby. Students or faculty requiring first aid on campus should contact campus police at 540-857-7979.

>> Program Progression:

  • The PTA program is progressive with each semester building on the semester prior. Therefore, students must also be able to progressively demonstrate a mastery of knowledge as they move through the program. To assist in progressive knowledge attainment, students must move through the program in a linear manner and must meet milestones each semester in order to continue to progress to the next semester. Inability to meet the progression milestones below will lead to program probation or dismissal.
  • The following progression policies will be followed by the PTA program:
    • Students must achieve a grade of “C” or better is required in all PTH courses in order progress to the next course in sequence and remain with initial cohort of students.
    • Students must achieve a grade of “C” or better (based on the grading scale for that course in all support (non-PTH) courses.
    • All support (non-PTH) courses must be successfully completed with a “C” or better by the end of the student’s third semester in the program.
    • A student must successfully pass all lab practical examinations each semester in order to progress to the next semester.
    • A student must successfully complete all didactic coursework before progressing to a clinical education course in the same semester.

>> Professional Behavior Expectations:

Adapting to the expectations of a professional program and the professional behavior standards of a healthcare environment can take time. However, once students begin their first clinical rotation, they will be formally and informally assessed on their ability to demonstrate expected behaviors. Inability to demonstrate expected behaviors may impact a student’s progression through the program. To assist in this learning process, the program maintains several professionalism standards and students will receive ongoing, formal feedback on their ability to demonstrate the expected professional behaviors. The program takes the ability to demonstrate professional behavior seriously, therefore, an inability to meet behavior expectations may result in program probation or dismissal. Students in the program are expected to:

  • Abide by the program dress code in lecture classes, lab classes, and in clinical settings.
  • Demonstrate behaviors consistent with program professional behavior standards
  • Abide by the APTA Standards of Conduct & Code of Ethics and the Core Values for the Physical Therapist and Physical Therapist Assistant (these can be found on the APTA website) and the Virginia Western Student Conduct Standards.

>> Readmission:

If a student is on program probation or electively withdraws from the program, and wishes to return, students must complete a re-entry process which is guided by strict deadlines. A student wishing to return to the program is encouraged to speak with the Program Director early to ensure the proper procedures can be followed and all deadlines met. In order to be considered for program re-entry, students must submit a request and an academic success plan and must pass written and hands-on skills tests that demonstrate retention of prior program information. Students must note that re-entry to the program may be limited by the number of available slots in the program and therefore, re-entry is not guaranteed even if all steps in the re-entry process are followed.

>> Student Rights and Safety:

  • It is the policy of the Virginia Community College System and Virginia Western Community College to maintain and promote equal employment and educational opportunities without regard to race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin, or other non-merit factors. For further information, contact the Title IX Coordinator, Lori Baker in Chapman Hall, Room C102, phone 540-857-6348, or the ADA/Section 504 Coordinator, at the Office of Disability Services, Student Life Building Room S207, phone 540-857-7286. TTY number is 800-855-2880 all users 711.
  • The PTA Program follows the VWCC policy regarding a student’s right to privacy of his/her educational records and The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This includes records which are part of the program application process.
  • The PTA Program follows the VWCC policy regarding disability services and access to education. It is VWCC's policy to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified students with documented disabilities. If you have a documented physical, psychological, or learning disability and you need a reasonable accommodation, please contact the Office of Disability Services in Student Life Center S207 – phone 857-7286. To best provide the accommodation you need, make this request as soon as possible.
  • While completing the PTA program is not inherently dangerous, students should be aware that there is some risk associated with a rigorous academic program which also requires significant physical activity and tasks. Students will be instructed in safety procedures in the lab setting to decrease the risk of injury to the student, classmates, and/or faculty. Inability to follow established safety procedures may increase risk of harm to the student, classmates, or faculty member. In addition to physical risk, the rigorous cognitive nature of the program may increase stress or other psychological conditions. Students can speak with the course instructor, Program Director, or college intervention counselor regarding concerns of psychological stress.
  • In clinical settings, students may be exposed to different risks than in the classroom settings. Students should heed the safety procedures of the clinical setting and should work with their clinical instructor to fully understand safety procedures. Inability to follow established safety procedures may increase risk of harm to the student, patient, or clinical instructor. Students should feel comfortable to ask for further assistance or to decline to perform a task which they to do not feel safe performing.

>> Technical Standards (Essential Functions):

Detailed information regarding program technical standards (essential functions) can be found on this website as a stand-alone document; however, prospective students can also review the summary of the technical standards (essential functions) listed below. In order to be successful in the PTA program, students are required to:

  • Display professional behavior appropriate for the classroom and lab settings and the clinical environment including, but not limited to, demonstrating:
    • Accountability, stress management, flexibility, a commitment to learning, caring and compassion, concentration, effective use of time and resources, integrity and responsibility, respect for others, ability to follow the college stance on nondiscrimination, the ability to professionally accept/respond to/integrate feedback, and interpersonal and collaborative skills.
    • Communicate professionally and effectively with a diverse population of faculty, classmates, staff of clinical site, other members of the healthcare team, patients, and family members in the classroom, lab, and clinical sites.
    • Demonstrate the ability to document patient treatments in simulated and actual medical record
    • Demonstrate critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
    • Demonstrate academic readiness for clinical rotations.
    • Possess the academic and psychomotor ability to complete a rigorous curriculum in the allotted time frame.
    • Demonstrate the ability to maintain proper body mechanics at all times to ensure safety of self, lab partners, faculty, patients, faculty, and other members of the healthcare team
    • In the classroom and clinical settings, demonstrate:
      • The ability to move into the various positions required in the role of a PTA, the appropriate motor control and strength to provide treatment techniques while ensuring patient safety. the physical ability to respond in emergency or unexpected situations, the physical balance required to perform all variety of patient treatments, the endurance to complete required activities or shifts in the classroom and clinical environment.
    • Utilize sensory systems to effectively engage in the teaching and learning process in the classroom and lab setting and to effectively treat patients in a variety of clinical settings.

Tuition: $
Credits: 69 Hours
Time: 2 years


Location: Fralin Center HP 214A or HP 339
Phone: 540-857-6325, 857-6644 or 857-7307
Fax: 540-857-6640

Mailing address:
3091 Colonial Ave., SW
Roanoke, VA 24015

Program Head

Jordan Tucker, PT, DPT
Program Director and Assistant Professor, Physical Therapist Assistant
B.S.-Ithaca College, 2004
M.S.-Ithaca College, 2005
DPT-Ithaca College, 2005

School of Health Professions

Martha Sullivan, Interim Dean