New students get insight, information from WSCC OTA, PTA grads, professionals

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Recent Wallace State Physical Therapist Assistant graduate Anna Baker, third from right, talks with incoming PTA students during a recent luncheon held for students and professionals in the PTA and Occupational Therapy Assistant programs at Wallace State.

HANCEVILLE – Alumni of the Wallace State Community College Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) and Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) programs recently met with current and incoming students of the programs, providing them with special insight into the program and the careers the students have chosen.

The event is aimed at providing students with the opportunity to meet with area professionals who went through the programs, ask them questions and network with individuals who may one day become clinical supervisors, co-workers or employers.

“The networking luncheon is a great opportunity for our new students to sit down with former students who are now clinicians.  It gives a safe space to ask questions about the program, the faculty, different practice settings, and the field of OT in general,” said Dr. Allen Keener, director of the OTA program. “The event allows them to begin networking with individuals with whom they may be paired with during fieldwork or working with eventually.”

Alina Adams, director of the Physical Therapist Assistant program, said the meeting is a great opportunity to calm the students’ nerves. “A new endeavor like this is just so nerve-wracking, and it’s an opportunity to sit down with a past student who dispel rumors and confirm truths for them.”

Adams said the event is very well received as an opportunity to meet their classmates as well as get some good information about the program.

Kathryn Neese, a 2011 graduate of the PTA program and a clinical instructor for the program, said the luncheon is a good opportunity meet the new students and encourage them. “To let them know that it’s going to be a little difficult through their program, and let them know what to expect and to encourage them,” she said. “It’s good for incoming students to hear what to expect in the program and what to expect professionally, different experiences and job opportunities.

Recent PTA graduates Amy Odell and Anna Baker were at the luncheon to speak to the new students who were attending orientation in advance of starting the program this fall.

“I remember orientation day last year, I was like, oh my gosh,” Odell said. “And then I thought it couldn’t get any worse than that until after the first day of school, and then that really freaked me out.” To hear from someone else who had been through the program that it will be OK, would have been encouraging, she said.

Baker said she had a friend who’d gone through the program several years ago who she would call to ask questions about the program. “It was good to have somebody to talk to,” she said.

The Occupational Therapy Assistant and Physical Therapist Assistant programs are five-semester programs, with two semesters of pre-requisite courses followed by three semesters of program specific courses. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment of OTAs and PTAs will grow 43 percent and 41 percent respectively from 2014 to 2024, making them among the fastest-growing occupations.

For more information about the OTA program, contact Keener at 256-352-8333 or For information about the PTA program, contact Adams at 256-352-8332 or Both accept new students each fall, with the application deadline of June 1 for each.