Chocolate Affair" Celebrates Physical Therapist Assistant Program's
In an event
drenched in chocolate, Mercer's Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA)
program celebrated its 10th anniversary on April 12. Close to 100
guests attended "A Chocolate Affair" at the MCCC Conference
Center, which brought together Mercer's PTA alumni and current students,
physical therapy professionals and other community supporters. It
also showcased the talents of MCCC's culinary students, who baked
twenty chocolate mousse tortes topped with chocolate glaze - ten
of which were specially decorated in honor of the event's generous
donors. Guests feasted on the tortes and also enjoyed a chocolate
fountain featuring dipping items such as pretzel sticks and fresh
Dr. Thomas Wilfrid,
MCCC vice president for Academic and Student Affairs, welcomed the
assembled crowd and reflected on the program's stellar success.
"One of only three community college programs in the state,
Mercer's Physical Therapist Assistant program has truly answered
the need to train and place qualified professionals in facilities
throughout the region," he said. The program started with eight
students in 1996; 19 students will graduate in May.
Coordinator Barbara Behrens, who organized the event, added her
comments. "The future is never certain. When the goals for
this program were established, we didn't know whether we would be
able to meet them. Now ten years later, we have provided our students
with a well-rounded, community-based PTA education. Our students
have achieved a 91.67% pass rate on the national licensure exam.
One hundred percent of our licensed grads have been employed within
six months. I am proud of our students, who have developed into
excellent clinicians." Behrens noted that a real team effort
has gone into the program's success, including some 50 community
facilities that serve as clinical training sites, and the many clinicians
who mentor Mercer students.
president of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Physical Therapy
Association, which donated a $500 PTA scholarship to commemorate
the anniversary, also shared his congratulatory remarks. Stoneking,
a physical therapist with offices in Ewing and Lambertville, has
provided a clinical setting for many Mercer PTA students since the
program's inception. "I am pleased to play a part in the development
of these students' professional skills," Stoneking said. "They
are highly motivated and eager to learn. They are there for all
the right reasons. When they complete their clinical training, their
skills and level of professionalism are right where they should
a 2002 PTA grad who helped out with the event, said that for her
the evening was truly a celebration of an excellent career choice.
""The Mercer program worked out great for me," she
said. "I was extremely well prepared for the national boards
and for the work setting." She returns to campus on a regular
basis as an instructor, assisting students as they prepare for their
Sliker has worked
for over four years at Water's Edge, a rehab facility in Trenton,
and starts a new job in an outpatient facility this month. "I
love my career," she said. "Being able to see progress
in my patients on a daily basis and making a difference in someone's
life is extremely rewarding."
ranging from age 21 to 105, Sliker has dealt with a broad range
of needs, but finds herself especially drawn to neurology cases,
including spinal cord injuries and brain trauma. "It's a challenging,
but rewarding area," she said. She has also dealt with end
stage Alzheimer's disease. "These patients are in a world of
their own, but I find a way to relate to them so that I can achieve
my goals. I also get to know their families and truly become part
of their lives." Sliker notes that the work of a physical therapist
assistant is demanding. "We must be physically fit. I have
an active, healthy lifestyle."
guests at the door were (l. to r.) alumnus Jessica Sliker, Program
Coordinator Barbara Behrens, and program mascot "Perry Osteum"
(as named by the PTA Class of 1998).
students served chocolate tortes. They are pictured with instructors
Anne Lumberger (in black jacket) and Rita Bohlumbohm (center).
Enjoying a chocolate
feast are (left to right); current PTA students Emi Hata, Karen
Zickler, Vicky Bassant, instructor Lavonne Couch,
and student John Viloria.
Brown (left) and Rebecca Apgar are proud alumni of the PTA Class
of 2004. They work together at CareOne in Ewing.
A party overview
of the program's first graduates was Donna Mottola ('99), who originally
attended Mercer in the 1980s and earned an AAS in General Business. Returning
to school to attend the PTA program when her own children started school
was "the best decision I ever made," she said. A clinician at
Arcadia Nursing and Rehab Center in Hamilton Square, Mottola has found
a good fit in this small facility with a family-like atmosphere. "The
job market is such that you can pick and choose." Still, she observes,
it's not a field for sissies. "I have always been into fitness and
I wanted to help people. This field combines both." Mottola is currently
considering continuing her education in pursuit of a degree in physical
Alumnus Regina Brown
('04) had also considered other career options before settling into Mercer's
PTA program. A natural athlete, Brown played softball for MCCC and has
also served as an assistant coach for women's basketball for five seasons.
She now works at CareOne in Ewing, along with Rebecca Apgar, another 2004
grad. Brown observes, "I am passionate about the field. Every day
is a workout. It's not for everybody, but every morning I get up and know
that my day will bring something new and different. At the end of the
day, I'm tired, but it's a good tired." More event photos here.
of "A Chocolate Affair" included two $500 scholarship donors:
CareOne at Ewing and the New Jersey Chapter of the American Physical Therapy
Association. Sponsors at the $100 level included: Coco Enterprises; Kristin
Collins, PTA, Class of 2000; Current Therapeutics; FA Davis Co. Publishers;
the MCCC DREAM program; Hamilton Physical Therapy Services; Hopewell Physical
Therapy; Cindy Meyers, PTA, Class of 1998; Primal Pictures; and Sports
Physical Therapy Institute. Chocolate donors included Carl Fischer Candies,
Carella's Hallmark, Thomas Sweet, Lindt Chocolate Shop, Gertrude Hawk,
and Cookie Cottage. All proceeds from the event will be donated to PTA
therapist assistants provide a range of treatment interventions and patient
care services under the supervision and direction of a physical therapist.
They are employed in hospitals, pediatric, geriatric, rehabilitation,
acute care and private outpatient facilities. For more on the program,
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