Date of Conferral







Iris Yob


Graduating sufficient numbers of healthcare providers to fill the needs of an aging population in the United States is a major social concern. To address this problem physical therapist assistant (PTA) programs need to improve their graduation rates to keep up with the demand for qualified personnel. Applying Senge's theory of effective systems, 1 medium-sized community college with an average pass rate of over 90% on the National Physical Therapist Assistant Examination (NPTAE) was selected to address the research question: What are the systems factors and how do they operate together to support student success in an associate degree PTA program? The method was a descriptive case study consisting of interviews, classroom observations, and document review using member checking and triangulation of data, with analysis by topic in order to yield Geertz's 'thick description' of efforts toward student success. A significant array of strategies and cooperative practices within the department were identified that may contribute to success on the NPTAE. Student success might be further enhanced if PTA faculty were even better connected to other College departments, and all successful retention strategies were disseminated throughout the College. While this case study cannot definitively establish a causal link between college-wide student success efforts and the high pass rate on the NPTAE, it is possible to conclude that it provides a context in which the success rate can be understood. The results of this study would suggest that other colleges that want to improve the NPTAE pass rate might consider this model to effect social change by meeting the growing health care needs and challenges in society of all people, especially an aging population.