Luray-Page County Center student Christa Grady found her calling while scrolling through social media.
“Before I attended this campus, I actually was at the Middletown Campus, and I was on Facebook, and there was an ad about the physical therapy assistant program here,” she says. “And I applied, and now here I am.”
Grady travels from Front Royal to the LPCC for her physical therapist assistant (PTA) classes, where the atmosphere is welcoming. She speaks highly of the faculty, including LPCC Manager Judy Suddith, who greets lost and wandering students with a warm smile and freshly popped popcorn.
“All the faculty is just so warm – and I don’t know where they find them, but it’s amazing that they’re there,” she enthuses. “You go return a book in the library, and they’re just smiling with a big smile on their face.”
Grady, who graduates in May, has enjoyed the lab work she has done through the PTA course, which is a satellite location for Germanna Community College’s PTA program. Her favorite experience has been working with real patients.
“We go to Page Memorial Hospital here in Luray to do lab, and we actually get to be in their outpatient physical therapy facility,” she says. “So, we get to see the machines that patients actually work on during physical therapy. Everything about this program is hands on.”
Grady’s has also enjoyed the local community’s embrace of the college.
“When we were learning massages, we invited the community to come to campus to get a tour and a free 30-minute massage,” she says. “We posted on Facebook, and our time slots all filled up within 30 minutes. We have a lot of support here. When we go out to eat and we’re wearing our name tags, people tell us, ‘Oh, that’s so amazing, congratulations, keep it up.’”
At the completion of the physical therapist assistant training program, professors work with students to find employment opportunities. Whether the student prefers to be in a hospital, or outpatient environment, or in-home care, instructors will guide graduates into the next step of their career.
“I plan to get a job in my hometown of Front Royal to gain more experience in the field before starting my dream of becoming a travel PTA,” Grady says. “I wouldn’t want to start my career anywhere else. I’m excited to give back to my community by helping everyone.”
She adds, “For me, this place has been nothing but goodness. I’m getting my dream job out of coming here and meeting new friends and meeting my professor, who’s like a new mom to me. It’s truly a good decision to come here.”
The median salary for PTAs in this region is $30 per hour, and the projected job growth is 37 percent. Learn more about the PTA program at laurelridge.edu/PTA.
Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.