Past grads celebrate OC therapist assistant program

Okanagan College proudly celebrated a quarter century of therapist assistant diploma student successes.

Patricia Harris

At 71 years of age, there’s no stopping Patricia Harris’s continued momentum in providing excellence in rehabilitation to those in need.

Boasting a health care career that spans a half-century fueled by passion and compassion, Harris is a recreation therapist assistant at the Village at Mill Creek, an assisted living and residential care facility in Kelowna.

It is a role the single mother of four pursued 25 years ago upon returning to college as a mature student.

At a commemorative reception held Sept. 24 in Kelowna, Okanagan College proudly celebrated a quarter century of therapist assistant diploma student successes. Harris was on hand to reconnect with her then-classmates and current colleagues in the industry to mark the occasion.

“I remember studying 25 years ago and the skills instructors passed on to us as students have always stayed with me,” recalled Harris, a member of the 1990 program intake and first graduating class.

Previously a practical nurse, Harris was working as an activity aid in Kelowna when she heard about a new program at the college that would offer the three pillars of physical, recreational and occupational therapist assistant training.

When it launched in 1990, the program was known as the rehabilitation assistant certificate program. It has now expanded into a two-year nationally accredited diploma.

“I’ve always worked in the health field. It felt like it would be something for me,” said Harris.

When she returned to the classroom at age 46, Harris experienced a healthy dose of fear and wasn’t totally sure about going back to school and jumping in next to 20-year-olds pursuing the same studies.

“The first four months I thought, am I going to be able to do this? I had homework every day,” recalled Harris.

“It was a learning curve, but the instructors encouraged me and took the extra time to help explain things I didn’t understand. At one point it just clicked and by the time I graduated I felt I could keep going.”

“As an educator, it is extremely satisfying to bring 25 years of alumni together. They’re a great example of the successful careers the program has generated,” said Jennifer Stephenson, chair of the college’s therapist assistant diploma program.

“A total of 574 therapist assistant graduates have come through our doors at the college to date and we’re seeing a real increase in people interested in training in this field.”

The program has 40 students starting their studies this year, with a waiting list of 20. Stephenson adds that it’s a good thing there is a demonstrated interest.

With an aging baby-boomer generation she anticipates an increase in demand for therapist assistants to provide support in the community.

 

Just Posted

A pickleball debacle unfolds in Lake Country

Pickleball players and frustrated residents discuss the sport court

Lightning causes three wildfires east of Osoyoos

It is believed the fires started by a lightning storm

Kelowna man found guilty of second-degree murder awaits sentencing

A Kelowna jury found Steven Randy Pirko guilty of the second-degree murder in June

Kelowna cab driver charged with sexual assault

RCMP received a report May 28 alleging a taxi passenger had been sexually assaulted by a cab driver

Trial delayed for West Kelowna man charged with murdering his wife

Kevin Costin’s trial is on hold until the Crown and defence work out a few kinks

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

Lightning causes three wildfires east of Osoyoos

It is believed the fires started by a lightning storm

Backhoe ‘burned to a crisp’ in South Okanagan

South Okanagan fire chief said the situation could have been a lot worse

Air ambulance called to second collision on Highway 1 west of Salmon Arm

Emergency crews respond to motor-vehicle collision near Second Nations Road intersection

Crash closes Highway 1 near Tappen

The collision happened about 3:30 p.m. by James Road

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Controversial anti-abortion film to be screened in the South Okanagan

Unplanned will be shown at the Penticton Landmark theatre

Okanagan-based pop star Andrew Allen is back with a new band

Singer-songwriter Andrew Allen is bringing his new band home for a concert this Friday

Most Read