McHenry County College student Emily Niedzwiedzki of Marengo has worked in customer service roles throughout her career, and she said she has a passion for being physically active.
She wants to use her people skills for a new career in physical therapy, and she has enrolled in the new physical therapist assistant program this semester at MCC, where she is part of the 16-member inaugural class of future physical therapist assistants.
Being part of the first PTA class at MCC is a celebration in itself, but it also happens to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the physical therapist assistant profession.
“MCC has been working hard to ensure we have a PTA program that meets the needs of our community, the health care field and our students,” instructor and department chairwoman Christen Louderman said. “It’s a very exciting time right now at MCC to see this program get off to such a wonderful start. We couldn’t have asked for a better inaugural class of PTA students. Having the start of this program align with the 50th anniversary of the PTA is icing on the cake.”
MCC’s physical therapist assistant Associate in Applied Science degree prepares students to work with people of all ages in a variety of health care settings – including hospitals, private practices, rehabilitation centers, outpatient facilities, school systems, home health and skilled nursing facilities – under the direction of a physical therapist.
Physical therapy assistants are trained to conduct physical therapy treatments, such as therapeutic exercise and balance and gait training, as well as assess a patient’s progress. They may participate in activities related to billing and coding, quality improvement, risk management and other administrative activities.
“It’s exciting to know that I will be working one-on-one with patients and helping them to regain their independence and reduce pain through movement,” Niedzwiedzki said.
She said she likes the hands-on approach to learning and plans to specialize in geriatrics and work with older adults after graduation.
“It’s great we now have this program available so close to home,” she said.
Cory Grabow of Woodstock expressed similar thoughts.
“I want to be a PTA because it is a faster route to work in a field I love – to help many different kinds of people in so many ways,” said Grabow, who works as a rehab tech with a Northwestern Medicine hospital.