Ceremony recognizes Northeast PTA students

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by amandab  8/16/2017 10:56:13 AM -- 

NORFOLK, NE - The graduates of Northeast Community College’s physical therapist assistant (PTA) program are now ready to enter their profession. The thirteen students from the Class of 2017 took part in a Recognition Ceremony before family, friends and faculty recently in the Lifelong Learning Center on the Norfolk campus.

The program requires sixteen weeks of clinical rotation. These experiences take place in hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and rehabilitation hospitals across Nebraska as well as some out-of-state locations, according to Tere Karella, clinical coordinator for the program.

 “Students are assigned a clinical instructor who oversees the student during the clinical rotation,” Karella said.  “Clinical instructors are PTs and PTAs who do not get paid to be instructors.  They volunteer their time with students not only from Northeast Community College but from PTA programs across the country because they believe in the future of physical therapy.”   

Twenty-nine physical therapists and physical therapist assistants, thirteen of whom were graduates of Northeast’s PTA program themselves, contributed their time to the program this year.

“I hear so many positive comments about our program,” Karella said. “The students do an amazing job representing the faculty, the program and the College. Many clinics and hospitals will only hire our graduates and tell me all the time, ‘Let us know when the next class is available.’”

Heather Dienstbier, PT, DPT, of Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Omaha, was the guest speaker at the event. She practices as an outpatient physical therapist and also works with inpatients and outpatients as an aquatic therapist.

The students traveled to Omaha and engaged in a hands-on aquatics lab with Dienstbier, where she saw an eager group of professionals.

“You came with questions and you came with your own experiences. You were ready to jump into your own personal profession, and I hope that I can convey all the feelings that all of your mentors and instructors share in saying that I can’t wait to see what you can do with this new, exciting profession.”

Dienstbier encouraged the graduates to let their desire to help others be a motivator in their careers.

“Never stop going for that moment when you can make a different in someone else’s life as often as you can, no matter how small. It’s going to drive you, it’s going to sustain you, and it’s going to make you better than you ever thought you could be.”

Shayne Vaught, Aurora, PTA program student president, praised her classmates in the event’s student address.

“I knew enrolling in this program, it was going to be hard, and I knew that once I was done, I was going to be doing something that I loved, that would challenge me every day,” Vaught said. “However, what I didn’t know was that I would make friendships that will last a lifetime and tons of memories to go with them. After many sleepless night, countless hours of studying, many tears and even more laughs, we can finally say that we made it.”

Other PTA officers this year were Samantha Sullivan, Allen, vice president; Heather Lenox, Battle Creek, secretary; Benjamin Gillming, Gibbon, treasurer; and Jordan Alexander, Wayne, and Brooke Nelson, Newman Grove, historians.

Other members of the Class of 2017 include Nicole Konz, Hospers, IA; Jacob Rimpley, North Platte; Whitney Rubendall, Franklin; Jasmine Ullarich, Norfolk; Sarah Vandersnick, Norfolk; Sierra Welsh, Atkinson; and Abigail Zitterkopf, Lexington.

Laura Schwanebeck serves as the Northeast PTA program director and instructor. Karella and Andrea Suhr are the other instructors.





Members of the 2017 Northeast Community College physical therapist assistant program recite the Professional Pledge of Ethical Conduct before family and friends during a special recognition ceremony in the Lifelong Learning Center recently. (Courtesy Northeast Community College)

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