Students in field

First-year PTA students gain valuable experience

October 18, 2022

Students in PTA 101 gaining hands-on experience in the examination of knee

The Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program at Finlandia University is the only PTA program in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. With a fully equipped PTA lab focusing on hands-on learning, students are provided the opportunity to gain experience in class sessions that you would normally only see in a clinical setting. 

Boasting a 6:1 student-to-faculty ratio, FinnU’s PTA program ensures each student is taught using proper techniques and form when working with patients. For students in PTA 101, a first-year class taken in both 2-year and 3-year degree pathways, gaining hands-on experience just weeks into their first semester on campus has already begun. 

“Today was a really great day for the PTA 101 class,” PTA instructor Sami Dowling (’10) said. “This class is usually just a lecture class, but this year we are changing things up to help the students see all of the things they can do in the field. 

“Just last week they got to experience analyzing someone’s squat technique, and what that could mean for potential injuries for the patients. They learned about joint mobilizations and manipulations, they learned how to find motor points using an electrical stimulation unit, and they learned about paraffin baths. This experience really captured their attention and sparked interest in the program.”

One of the most versatile degree options at Finlandia and in the workforce, PTA students tend to work closely with athletes and individuals of all ages with varying injuries and illnesses. Students interested in advancing their associate degree into a bachelor’s degree have the opportunity to enroll in Finlandia’s 2+2 completion degrees, like 2022 graduate Tabin Filizetti. 2+2 degree options include Healthcare Management, Sports Management, or the Liberal Arts option that opens pathways to Pre-DPT and Pre-Med.


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