by Elizabeth Clarke

Louisiana Christian University’s Physical Therapy Assistant program has a sound history of strong academics and superior student outcomes. With the addition of the LCU Bachelor of Applied Science, program director Dr. Shaina Goudeau expects it to attract more attention than ever.

The PTA program is committed to the highest standards of ethics, professionalism and academic excellence while remaining rooted in Chrisitan faith. Part of the program’s success can be measured by a 100% pass rate on the NPTAE national licensure exam through the Federation of the State Board of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) as well as a 100% employment rate for program graduates, Goudeau said.

“I am grateful for Dr. Goudeau’s leadership and the teamwork of Penny Reeves, Eve Deselle, and Cheryl Bullock, for their tireless efforts to make our PTA degree a stellar healthcare professional program,” said Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Cheryl Clark. “The students’ 100% pass rate on the national exam and their 100% employment rate speaks volumes of the program’s academic rigor, LCU’s outstanding PTA faculty who are dedicated to student success, and LCU’s commitment to producing quality healthcare professions to help meet the demand and needs of the healthcare profession.”

The 13th cohort of students just will complete their degrees in July, Goudeau said. Each summer, a new cohort of 20 students are accepted into the program through a competitive application process. To apply, students must have completed prerequisites including 30 hours of general education and obtain a minimum of 60 hours of observation in two different physical therapy settings. After acceptance into the program, students progress through 14 months consisting of 45 hours of didactic content focusing on technical skills as well as three clinical internships, which enhance and support hands-on skill while working in physical therapy clinics.

Miyah Portalis, a May 2022 graduate, said she plans to work with geriatric patients in a skilled nursing home facility.

Portalis, is one of many nontraditional students, who find the program attractive. She had already completed a four-year degree upon entering the program last year.

“The classes were challenging, but I know they will benefit me in the future,” Portalis said. “I was able to form great friendships with a few of my classmates. We supported each other throughout the entire program. Dr Goudeau is an amazing instructor. She pushes her students to be the best they can be and because of that I have a deep appreciation for her.”

Other graduates may choose to take their PTA degree and work toward a four-year degree and even apply to Physical Therapy School.

“The new Bachelor of Applied Science will suit our students well because they can complete their associate degree in two years and then continue on to earn a bachelor’s degree while being allowed to use the PTA coursework as acceptable hours toward the Bachelor of Applied Science,” Goudeau said. “The implementation of this degree allows PTA students and PTA graduates to complete both degrees in four years. Students who earn their bachelor’s degree may then choose to work toward a bridge program (bridging from a PTA to a PT) or apply to a traditional physical therapy program.”

Ashley Lewis has been working as a PTA in Monroe since graduating from the program. She has been finishing her four-year degree part-time.

“I recently was accepted into the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program [at University of Louisiana Monroe],” Lewis said. “Dr. Goudeau was kind enough to write me a letter of recommendation even after years of being a student [at LC]. I’m so grateful for her and helping me in this journey.”

Goudeau said the program has never stopped growing and producing quality PTAs.

Goudeau began the PTA program 14 years ago along with former program director, Dr. Amy Stallings. The development of the Division of Allied Health at Louisiana Christian University including a Physical Therapist Assistant Program was initiated in an effort to address a dramatic shortage of healthcare professionals in Louisiana, especially in its rural communities, most of which had been designated Medically Under-served Areas (MUAs) and Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). Louisiana Christian University has been a leader in higher education for over one hundred years and through the consultation and support of the Louisiana Hospital Association (LHA), Rural Health Coalition (RHC), Louisiana College Allied Health Taskforce, and health professionals across Louisiana a grant proposal was submitted and approved by the state of Louisiana.

“The program has largely grown by word of mouth,” Goudeau said. “Our goal is to increase our marketing efforts to areas outside of central Louisiana so that program graduates can reach all areas of the state and be of service to those in need, especially in rural, under-served areas.”

“What sets LCU apart, Goudeau said, is the combined focus of technical skills and spirituality.”

“Our focus is providing sound education, facilitating students to reaching their ultimate potential and using physical therapy skills while serving others for Christ,” Goudeau said.

“Faculty is steadfast in ensuring the three strands of the PTA program (competencies, Christian service and life-long learning) are interwoven throughout the curriculum and valued by all shareholders.”

For more information about the PTA program contact Dr. Goudeau at (318)487-7162 or


(students studying Kinesiology): (foreground) Hunter Lemoine, (background) Spencer Taylor

LEAD PHOTO (PTA students from left to right) Hunter Lemoine, Christian Rhodes, Spencer Taylor, Miyah Portalis, Laura White

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