Finds Fulfillment as Physical Therapist Assistant
while she waited for her daughters' three-hour competitive
swim practices to end, Sondra Tomei pondered her future. Although
she enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom, she felt the time was
right to make a move.
"I went to Mercer County Community College and asked
the simple question, 'What do you have for me?,'" she
said, recalling that she was quickly attracted to the Physical
Therapist Assistant program (PTA).
The program proved a perfect fit. Years earlier, Tomei had
earned her bachelor's degree in Economics with a concentration
in biology from the University of Vermont. She had all of
the PTA program's core prerequisites except for anatomy/physiology,
which must be taken within the last five years.
Tomei enrolled at MCCC the very next week. Recalling her busy
schedule, she said, "I studied in the car during swim
practice, learned how to use Word and e-mail, and asked my
children for tips on how to write research papers." She
reveled in her new moniker, "nerd."
Tomei was a dedicated student who was named
to the President's List for two consecutive years and was a member
of the Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society. Graduating with highest
honors, she earned her A.A.S. degree in MCCC's Physical Therapist
Assistant Program in 2004. Today she is a physical therapist assistant
at Hamilton Physical Therapy Services, which has offices in Hamilton,
Ewing, Robbinsville and Sewell.
Working under the supervision of a team of physical therapists,
Tomei provides manual therapeutic exercises and home exercise programs
for clients of all ages. In addition to using her hands-on skills
and providing documentation for treatment justification, she continually
strives to expand her knowledge base.
"I love what I do," Tomei says ."It's gratifying
to see the smile of a patient who gives you a grateful hug upon
the relief of their pain. The rewards are endless."
Having once considered a career in
medicine or physical therapy, Tomei is finding great satisfaction
in her new career. "It allows me to explore my passions for
science, research and teaching. Wherever life takes me I know that
there are plenty of opportunities in this exciting profession."
Tomei maintains that Mercer's accredited Physical Therapist Assistant
program met all of her expectations. Upon graduating in 2004, she
spent three months studying for the National Physical Therapy Examination
for PTAs and passed it the first time around."Mercer's
instructors and state-of-the-art facilities thoroughly prepared
me for the state exam and the demands of this challenging field,"
Following an internship that is a required
component of the PTA curriculum, Tomei was hired at Capital Health
Systems' Helene Fuld and Mercer Hospitals in Trenton. "That
is what I needed to get my start. Mercer's PTA program turned my
desire to learn into a career path," she said.
And, with a daughter who suffered from tendonitis in her shoulders,Tomei
says her PTA skills also proved useful at home. Now that both daughters
are away at college, as an undergraduate and post-graduate respectively,
Tomei is considering her next step in academia -- a doctorate in
physical therapy designed specifically for PTAs.
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