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Another Physical Therapy Department Student Notches Perfect Score on National Exam


JONESBORO – For the second time this year, a graduate of one of the programs in the Department of Physical Therapy at Arkansas State University has recorded a perfect score on the national licensing examination administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.

Jonathan Cordell, who graduated in May from the physical therapist assistant (PTA) program, received notice that his July performance on the test was a perfect 800.  The PTA is a two-year program in A-State’s College of Nursing and Health Professions.

With particular interest in orthopedic cases, especially patients with chronic pain issues, Cordell is a native of Corning and current resident of Paragould.  He is looking for his first job and hopes to be in the workforce soon.

Cordell's reaction to the news from the test administrator was simple disbelief.

"I thought there must be some computer error or something," he recalled.  "After the test, I felt that I probably did okay, but I had no idea I did THAT okay."

Becky Keith, assistant professor of physical therapy and director of the PTA program, said she was extremely proud of the 2014 class, which had a first-time pass rate of 93 percent, highlighted by the perfect score.

Having previously earned a degree in computer science, Cordell was known by faculty to be curious, conscientious and deliberate.

"He approached each task with the goal of exceeding expectations," Keith said.  "He was very thought-provoking as he challenged his classmates and instructors to view the world from a little different perspective.   He often assisted his classmates by explaining concepts that were difficult to grasp."

Cordell's interest in a career helping others grew out of his own experience as a patient, unable to run or even walk normally.

"I had right knee pain for over a year and walked with a limp, so I went to the doctor who prescribed some physical therapy," he continued.  "I went to Keith Johnson in Jonesboro, and after a few weeks, my knee pain had greatly subsided and I could finally run again.  I was very happy after my physical therapy, and that greatly inspired me."

Duston Jones of Brookland, who completed the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree in May, also recorded a perfect score on his national licensing exam.

"This is the first time for both the DPT and PTA programs to have students score an 800, and in the same year," added Dr. Shawn Drake, chair of the Department of Physical Therapy.  "I think we are seeing the results of collaborative efforts between faculty and students.  Each faculty member contributes their individual expertise, yet, works together to ensure student success.  I believe we are seeing the results of coordinated efforts by faculty to follow our mission."

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Jonathan Cordell
Jonathan Cordell



" . . . I was very happy after my physical therapy, and that greatly inspired me."