“This is great news for students, faculty and the
community,” said Daryl Menke, PTA program coordinator and
instructor. “Receiving accreditation demonstrates to stakeholders we
have developed a high-quality program and shown significant,
positive growth throughout the development phase.”
The process for receiving accreditation was rigorous. It started
when PTA was identified as a community need in 2012. After three
years of planning, the program received candidacy status from CAPTE,
which meant the first cohort of students could begin their journey
towards a career in physical therapy. The program officially
launched in January 2016.
“While we were in candidacy, we put in a lot of work to get to the
next level of accreditation,” stated Menke. “From self-studies and
reports to reviews and site visits, there was a lot of midnight oil
In addition to meeting accreditation standards, the program
maintained a quality student experience while ensuring students were
persevering, succeeding and seeing positive outcomes. According to
Menke, “There were several moving pieces and we needed to have the
ability to coordinate small and major aspects of the process. This
was key and helped us get to where we needed to be.”
Menke goes on to note that it “took a village to start a PTA
program.” “I’m pretty sure we utilized the expertise of every person
at HCC to help us get to this point.”
Accreditation also solidified the ability to move forward for
soon-to-be graduates of the program. In order to become a licensed
PTA, students must graduate from an accredited program so they can
sit for the national licensure exam. Additionally, future students
can feel confident knowing they are applying to a qualified program.
“We were very transparent about the status of our program and what
it meant. The students put their trust in us as we did with them. It
was a mutual effort to move the program forward and we couldn’t have
done it without their support and faith in the program,” said Menke.
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Throughout the process, Menke indicated Heartland’s
PTA program never had major deficiencies, just normal growth
opportunities. Now with an accreditation status, he’s excited for
the prospects that lie ahead.
“Just like the institution as whole, we plan to constantly improve
and meet community needs,” he said.
Some of those plans include a consistent review of
curriculum and the development of advanced proficiencies, which
according to Menke, solidify clinical skills at a higher level.
“Like any industry, you start at a very basic level and as you gain
experience, you build on that skill. We want to be able to provide
opportunities beyond the basics so our students enter the field with
even stronger knowledge and skill.”
Another idea Menke hopes to formulate in the future is articulation
agreements with four-year institutions so students have the option
to expand into other areas within the profession itself.
Looking at both the past and future of the College’s PTA program,
Menke is appreciative of the constant support it has received. “It
feels like we’re part of the community and they have supported us on
all sorts of levels. From saying ‘yes’ to a program at Heartland to
the donated equipment and supportive clinical sites, we appreciate
everything they have done so we can commit to quality, which is what
the program and Heartland are all about.”
About the PTA program
A PTA provides physical therapy treatments under the supervision of
a licensed physical therapist to help people recover from injuries,
illnesses and surgeries.
The first cohort of 15 students were recognized at a pinning
ceremony on Friday, May 12 in the Astroth Community Education Center
on Heartland’s Normal campus.
The program is now accepting students into its next cohort.
Applications are due August 1. More information can be found at