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Alum David Noonan's Hands-on Education
At MCCC Leads to PTA Success


West Windsor, N.J. - One of David Noonan's greatest joys in life is alleviating pain. This proud 1998 graduate of Mercer's first Physical Therapist Assistant class speaks quite literally from hands-on experience. Noonan, a licensed physical therapist assistant at Inner Circle Physical Therapy and Myofascial Release Centers in Bucks County, Pa., treats a wide variety of physical ailments on a daily basis.

Noonan feels right at home at Inner Circle. The privately-owned outpatient clinic specializes in manual therapy-based approaches to orthopedic and chronic pain conditions that meet patients' individualized needs. With four locations, its newest addition is the Women's Health Center, the first of its kind in Bucks County. Working closely with lead therapists, Noonan assists in applying a broad array of modalities including heat, electrical stimulation, and cryotherapy. "I am involved in the clinical decision-making process every step along the way," Noonan said.

"We constantly get patients where nothing has helped them beyond temporary relief," Noonan observes. "At Inner Circle, we place our focus on the changes that can be made so that people can heal. We can help them in that journey."

David Noonan

Upon graduating from Steinert High School, Noonan initially thought about becoming a physical trainer. He enrolled at MCCC, which offered a solid curriculum in anatomy, exercise science and other sciences. With Mercer having just launched its Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Program, the timing was perfect for Noonan to consider a career in a rewarding related field. "It sounded like something I would enjoy, so I applied [to the program], was accepted, and started a very important path in my life," he says.

Noonan quickly developed great rapport with his professors. PTA Program Coordinator Barbara Behrens was among the faculty members who helped mold him professionally. Physical therapist Regina Rosenthal, under whom he trained during a clinical internship, also made a strong impression. "Their advice shaped my clinical decision-making skills," said Noonan, who graduated with honors. "When I gave them an answer, they would ask for my rationale. There are many correct answers, but usually there is one best answer to meet a patient's specific needs."

Upon graduation, Noonan relocated to the West Coast, where he put his PTA career on hold to pursue an equally strong passion for music. An accomplished drummer and bassist, he returned to his Jersey roots in 2000, founding and managing the rock band The Cryptkeeper Five (www.cyrptkeeperfive.com). He toured with the group throughout the country for nearly 10 years.

Confessing a "love/hate relationship" with the music business, Noonan found himself drawn back to the field he had trained for at Mercer. He enrolled in an eight-week online physical therapist assistant refresher course offered by Lake Superior College and then took his PTA board certification exam. He passed with high ratings 11 years after graduating from Mercer's program.

Now in his second year of practice, Noonan is bolstering his skills by studying to become an advanced myofascial release therapist. "I am happy that I made the decision to return to the physical therapy field. It is amazing work," Noonan said.

And more is in store. Noonan was recently accepted to Thomas Edison State College, where he will major in Natural Sciences and Mathematics. From there, he plans to pursue his doctorate in Physical Therapy with an end goal of autonomous case management.

Noonan has also proven a loyal MCCC alumnus, often returning to campus to address graduating students as part of a PTA alumni panel.

"I would not change a thing about my journey. No one can ever take your education away. Every experience has shaped me into what I have become today," Noonan says.

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