The Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program at Niagara County Community College paves the way for a rewarding career in the health care field, say college officials.
Physical therapist assistants play a vital role in helping patients who need to improve mobility, decrease pain, and increase their quality of life. NCCC PTA graduates help patients build strength after surgery, recover from injuries, manage chronic pain, and even improve pre-natal and post-partum health.
Meagan Swartz, a 2017 graduate of the program explains, “As a PTA, we see people in a vulnerable state following an injury, accident, or surgery. We help them physically by taking them through exercises and stretches or by using manual therapy like massages. We also help mentally, and emotionally by lending a listening ear, explaining things to them regarding their recovery, and helping them to understand the process. It makes a world of difference when you actually listen to someone's concerns and help to clarify things for them in a way that they understand.” She adds, “Seeing your patients’ happiness and excitement when their pain has decreased or their strength has increased is the most rewarding part of the job.”
The desire to help others is crucial to being a PTA. Outside of the physical therapy world, Swartz is leading the charge in an “Adopt-a-Senior” program in both North Tonawanda and the City of Tonawanda. Creating an online platform where the community can “adopt” local high school seniors, she has helped to coordinate relationships between local residents who shower seniors with contactless doorstep goodies as the pandemic halted their graduations and end of year celebrations. Meagan’s NCCC professors saw the impact she was making in the community and decided to embrace the same program for NCCC 2020 PTA graduates.
In addition to inspiring alumni, the program boasts experienced faculty with a strong interest in evidence-based practice and instruction. A 2019 American Physical Therapy Association’s Emerging Leader recipient, David Faccini ’94, sits on the NCCC faculty roster. He is one of many experienced instructors who is providing a rewarding academic journey to students. He explains, "NCCC has become one of the premier schools in WNY for Physical Therapy Assistant Education. I contribute this to the dedication, compassion, and professional work ethic of NCCC instructors. I have certainly applied these skills to my everyday practice over the years which have helped to shape me into the PTA that I am today.”
Well-trained faculty and dedicated students have created an impressive 100% pass rate for the PTA licensure examination from 2011-2018. In addition, graduate employment rate was 100% of those who sought employment. The U.S. News and World Report states, “Physical Therapist Assistants rank #3 in Best Healthcare Support Jobs and #26 out of 100 Best Jobs” overall. NCCC’s PTA degree can be completed in as little as 20 months and is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).
The NCCC PTA program is part of the State University of New York Higher Education system which helps to keep tuition rates at a lower cost. Enrolled students can take advantage of the NYS Excelsior Scholarship program as well as a myriad of other scholarship opportunities available by the NCCC Foundation. Visit http://niagaracc.suny.edu/programs/pta for more information.