West Windsor, N.J. – Barbara Behrens, Professor of Physical Therapy and founding coordinator of Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) program, was recognized for her years of service by the American Physical Therapists Association (APTA) of New Jersey, which presented her with the first PTA of the Year award for 2019.
“I am quite humbled, surprised and honored to be recognized in this manner by my colleagues in the state association,” Behrens said. “I believe very strongly in the value and importance of PTAs and hope that other PTAs continue to be involved in their profession.”
The honor is the latest in Behrens’ 40-year career and comes during the 50th anniversary of the APTA. After earning her A.A.S. as a Physical Therapist Assistant from Union County College, Behrens continued on to earn her B.S. in Health Care Education from Rutgers University and her M.S. in Adult Education from Capella University.
Among other accolades, Behren’s was appointed by the Governor Jim McGreevey to serve on the State Board of Physical Therapy Examiners in 2003. Then in 2012, she was nominated for and accepted the role of vice chairperson for the NJ State Board. Both positions marked the first time that a PTA had held those roles in New Jersey.
At Mercer, Behrens developed MCCC’s PTA program in 1996, and was the first PTA to serve as the coordinator of a PTA program in New Jersey.
“This program was established to address a pressing need for PTAs in the central New Jersey region,” Behrens said. “The first class was admitted in March of 1997 before the lab was even completed and classes were held around a conference table.”
Her books, Physical Agents: Theory & Practice 2nd ed. and Laboratory Manual for Physical Agents 2nd edition, both published by FA Davis Co. in 2006, have been used by the majority of Physical Therapist Assistant programs across the United States and have been translated into several languages.
“I’m proud to oversee a program that has been a positive force in our community,” Behrens said. “Physical therapy is an extremely diverse and rewarding field to have had the pleasure of being part of over the past 40 years. I can honestly say that it has never been boring!”