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Barbara Behrens Earns National Recognition for Advanced Proficiency in Physical Therapy Education

West Windsor, N.J. – Mercer County Community College Professor Barbara Behrens, of Hamilton, continues to pave the way for educators and students in the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) field. 

The coordinator of MCCC’s PTA program, Behrens recently fulfilled the requirements for the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) Physical Therapist Assistant Recognition of Advanced Proficiency. She was recognized during APTA's Honors and Awards Ceremony at the organization's Conference and Exposition in Salt Lake City, Utah, in June.

Behrens is the first New Jersey professor to earn this honor in the newly created Education category.  (Other categories include musculoskeletal, acute care, geriatric and aquatic.)  According to the APTA website, the designation signifies that the recipient has “gone above and beyond entry-level education in their selected area of work and sets the recipient apart from other providers…through education, experience, and leadership.”

Barbara Behrens, PTA, BS, MS

News of Behrens’ achievement was included in Jersey Jargon, the e-newsletter of the New Jersey chapter of the APTA.  In announcing the award, Stephanie Sadowski, APTA's Honors and Awards Program Specialist, noted that these eligibility requirements demonstrate a progression toward advanced knowledge and skill in a chosen area of work.

Behrens developed MCCC’s PTA program in 1996, representing the first PTA to serve as the coordinator of a PTA program in New Jersey.  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.  The third edition of the text is due out at the end of this year, with Holly Beinert, the Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education for Mercer’s PTA program as co-author.

Behrens adds the APTA recognition to her list of other firsts.  She was the first to represent PTAs on the NJ State Board of Physical Therapy Examiners and to serve as the organization’s elected vice chair. She was the first PTA to serve as an item writer for the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy, which drafts test questions for the national physical therapy examination, using her own text book as a reference.  She was the first PTA to serve as a program chair for the Section on Clinical Electrophysiology of the American Physical Therapy Association.  

In 2000, Behrens was awarded the FA Davis Award for Outstanding Physical Therapist Assistant Educator from the American Physical Therapy Association, the highest national award recognizing a PTA educator.

MCCC's PTA program prepares students for employment in hospitals and pediatric, geriatric, and private practice physical therapy facilities under the supervision and direction of a physical therapist. Visit the Physical Therapist Assistant webpage here.

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