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

Comedy fundraiser for Okanagan baseball leagues

It’s a comedy and carnival night for the Okanagan College, Okanagan Athletics, and Kelowna Jr Coyotes

Two Kelowna stores work to raise funds for non-profit and the Central Okanagan Foodbank

ScanDesigns Furniture and Muse & Merchant Home Collection locations raised $20,500

Ballet Kelowna kicks off with first 2019 program, Winter

The new program comes to the Kelowna Community Theatre Feb. 1

Central Okanagan NDPers organize meeting look at BC government’s record last year

Organizers say open house at UBCO is open to people of all political persuasions

West Kelowna Warriors lose to Rivermen

It was a tight 2-1 loss in the first of a three game road trip

Canada’s archive buys rare book that hints at Nazi plans for North America

The 1944 book may have served as a blueprint for a Nazi purge

Advocate hopes B.C. legislature scandal leads to more transparency

‘Depressing’ that it takes a scandal to inspire freedom of information reform, says Sara Neuert

‘Dr. Lipjob‘ avoids jail, gets 30-day suspended sentence

She will have to serve the 30 days in prison if she commits a breach during her two-year’s probation

UPDATE: Police watchdog heads to Kelowna for officer involved shooting

RCMP are surrounding the CIBC at the mall in Kelowna

Widow’s petition demands mandatory training for truckers

Truck driver Stephen Babij was killed in a head on semi truck collision on Highway 1 in 2017

Ex-Mountie involved in Taser death at Vancouver airport sues government

Kwesi Millington claims he acted in accordance with RCMP training

B.C. company fights court order to allow public access to Nicola Valley lakes

Legal battle between fish and game club, cattle firms takes another twist

LETTER: Seniors home care, day programs expanding, Adrian Dix says

B.C. health minister responds to latest Seniors Advocate report

Most Read