Hard work does pay. Just ask Carthage resident Laura Ladner.
Ladner is a May 2020 graduate from Meridian Community College’s Physical Therapist Assistant Program, a two-year study that prepares students for a career in the physical therapy arena - a top healthcare support job.
As a graduate of the program, students like Ladner get the opportunity to sit for the National Physical Therapy (NPTE) is the standardized licensure examination that measures the ability of graduate of physical therapy and physical therapist assistant programs to operate as an entry-level professional.
MCC PTA Program Coordinator and Instructor Dr. Tommy Winston explained the exam offers licensure uniformity. Graduates must score 600 or greater to pass the exam and become a licensed physical therapist assistant.
Ladner scored a 776 out of a possible 800 on her test. “Leaving the test facility that day, I never would have imagined that I made a score that high. I knew deep down that I had passed, but was so anxious and nervous that I would have never guessed I made a 776,” she said.
“All of those long hours of studying paid off,” she added.
Logging in countless hours is tough; it often means sacrificing time spent with loved ones. “There were many hours put in for class time and study time, which I expected,” Ladner said. She also put in the time commitment for traveling – a commute of an hour and quarter to school and back home.
Her mission was threaded with family ties. “I knew that I had to finish the program for my daughter, though as well as for myself, so I am thankful that I was able to achieve this degree.”
When Ladner had her daughter, she was working on a paralegal degree, which, as she said, is the “total opposite of physical therapy. I never felt fulfilled or happy doing that, so I actually quit the program and applied for PTA,” she said.
The desire to help others in the patient care field reached back to when her mom, at a young age, had a total hip replacement, and home health care workers came to the house for rehabilitation. Ladner remembers being impressed with the physical therapist would work with her mom and offer compassion and exercise routines. “He made such a huge difference in her daily life and got her back on her feet,” Ladner said.
“I instantly fell in love with the field and had to know more. I knew that this was my life path to go on, and I am so thankful that I did,” she said.
Spending two years at MCC was worth it, Ladner said, and because each PTA program comprises just 14 students, classmates become friends. “You become more like a family,” Ladner said. “We all went through so much together, even life troubles out of school, and having a team of amazing people behind you was so awesome, including amazing instructors that were always there to listen and help,” she said.
Physical therapist assistants play a supporting role in applying patient care components, gathering data related to the treatments provided and collaborating with a physical therapist to modify care as necessary.
Seeking a position in a skilled nursing facility or a hospital setting, Ladner said she believes her calling. Truthfully, being a PTA is so much more than the physical rehabilitation. In some facilities, we may be the only ones who interact with patients for an extended time.”
Ladner knows her learning will go on. “Even though we just finished school, I am also excited for the continued education so I can learn new skills.”
Winston noted that he and Jenny Bryan, academic coordinator of clinical education and instructor, were happy about Ladner’s success. “She was one of the hardest working and most driven students to date. She commuted to campus daily and would be one of the first people in the building and one of the last to leave. Her commitment to excellence shined through daily. We are proud of her and wish her great success in her future endeavors,” Winston added.