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Kent State Ashtabula Physical Therapist Assistant Technology Program Readies for Market Demand

Posted Dec. 5, 2011
enter photo description
Kathy Giffin is the new director of the Physical Therapist
Assistant Technology Program at Kent State Ashtabula.

Kent State University at Ashtabula’s Physical Therapist Assistant Technology Program is the only one of its kind in the country to offer a transitional concentration for certified athletic trainers. This new concentration has doubled enrollment to the program, which now graduates about 55 students each year.

Kathy Giffin, the program’s new director, says the market for physical therapist assistants (PTAs) continues to have an excellent outlook. Citing the U.S. Department of Labor, Giffin says the need for physical therapist assistants is expected to increase by at least 20 percent from 2008 to 2018.

As new director of the program, Giffin hopes to maintain the high standards that have been set by the faculty members and wants the program to continue to lead in educational innovations, such as the Athletic Trainer Certified (ATC) transitional concentration.

“Collectively, our first priority is to provide an excellent educational value that prepares students to pass the licensure exam and assist the physical therapist in the delivery of superior, ethical care that meets the needs of their communities,” Giffin says. “We need to be aware that the healthcare industry is constantly changing, and, therefore, supply, demand and expectations are also changing. When this program began in 1996, the physical therapists our assistants worked with had a bachelor’s degree education, and all patients had to be referred from a physician. Now all physical therapist graduates earn doctorates, and patients legally have direct access to a physical therapist. As the role of the physical therapist evolves, it is likely that the role and education of the physical therapist assistant may also need to change.”

Giffin credits the three full-time faculty members in the program, who have a combined 33 years of experience, for its success.

“They [faculty members] are knowledgeable, understanding and student-oriented professionals who are very committed to the success of our students, to the reputation of this campus and to our program,” she says. “Our state-of-the-art technology in the classrooms, excellent PTA lab, cadaver lab and the library all ensure that our students have access to a variety of resources to succeed.”

Giffin practiced as a licensed physical therapist assistant for more than 20 years in outpatient orthopedic and wellness settings. Her academic experience includes academic coordinator of clinical education for Kent State University at East Liverpool, faculty member for Remington College PTA program, and as an A.C.E. certified personal trainer.

She earned a Master of Education in instructional design for online learning from Capella University and holds a bachelor in integrated health studies with a health science concentration from Kent State. Giffin is also a 1991 graduate of the East Liverpool Campus PTST program.

For more information about the Physical Therapist Assistant Technology Program, visit www.ashtabula.kent.edu/academics/depts/ptst/index.cfm.