Tulsa Community College Named a 2019 Bellwether Finalist for Innovative Program

February 1, 2019
A learning space for Tulsa Community College students to get clinical, hands-on learning in the Physical Therapist Assistant program is being recognized nationally as an innovative workforce development program. TCC is a 2019 Bellwether finalist in the Workforce Development category for the creation of the Nate Waters Physical Therapy Clinic at the TCC Metro Campus.

TCC Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer Cindy Hess, Associate Professor Suzanne Reese, and Physical Therapist Assistant Program Director Melanie Heffington will present “If You Build It, They Will Come” at the February Community College Futures Assembly in San Antonio. The winner announced will be announced February 5.

“The Nate Waters Physical Therapy Clinic is a model that bridges clinical learning with community service. Our students are prepared for work after graduation and at the same time, the clinic serves as a resource for the medically underserved population in need of physical therapy,” said Leigh B. Goodson, TCC president and CEO.

Reese conceptualized the clinic more than 11 years ago. The faculty-driven concept is a clinical laboratory where students can take concepts straight from the classroom to the clinic, which reinforces what they have learned.

“In this case, the community creates the classroom. The patients are active contributors and act as community instructors as they, along with faculty, provide constructive feedback to the students about their performance,” said Reese.

TCC students have also given back to the community by providing valuable services to individuals who lack resources to get treatment.

“Since the clinic opened, our students have provided almost $500,000 in pro bono physical therapy services to the community. We take great pride in the role we have in serving the need in our community and are thrilled to see each of our patients succeed,” said Heffington.

The clinic can see 20-25 patient visits per week and individuals range from one month to 70 years old. One of those patients was Alan Taylor who suffered a stroke and had no insurance to cover the intensive rehabilitation required to recover maximum function.

“The Nate Waters Physical Therapy Clinic is a place that can’t be replaced,” said Taylor. “It’s a place that has to be there. There should be a thousand of them.”