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Students and Teachers Excel in GCC PTA Program

June 30, 2015

Batavia, NY- One student described it as “an excellent environment for growth both professionally and personally.” The Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program at Genesee Community College continues to foster that type of environment with new honors for faculty, top-notch training for students and excellent job prospects for graduates. This year, Dr. Christopher Caputi, Associate Professor was the recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, an honor previously received by Professor Peggy Kerr – 20 years prior in 1995. Professor Kerr has been with the program since its inception and has watched hundreds of students earn degrees and find excellent positions throughout Western New York and beyond.  

The GCC PTA program began in 1990, graduating its first class in 1992. A Physical Therapist Assistant is an educated healthcare provider who assists the physical therapist. PTAs work with patients, helping to evaluate injuries, assist with treatment and provide training in exercises and activities that can relieve pain and restore function. PTAs are in demand in a variety of settings such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, schools or community health centers.  

GCC’s PTA program is accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association and prepares students for the national licensing exam. On average 94% of GCC students have passed the exam. One student remarked, “The program at GCC provided me with an incredibly strong foundation on which to build my work experience.” This student found GCC to be “a very supportive environment and two exceptional professors.”   

Professor Peggy (Debbins) Kerr, of Lancaster, NY, has been with the PTA program since it began in 1990. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Therapy and a Master’s Degree in Exercise Science from SUNY at Buffalo as well as a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from SUNY Brockport. Her clinical experience spans many age groups and settings from preschools to nursing homes, which has helped her develop teaching expertise in cardiopulmonary and neurological rehabilitation.

Dr. Caputi joined GCC in 2007 and currently teaches a variety of classes in physical therapy techniques and Applied Kinesiology. He earned a Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy from D’Youville College and a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. He serves as the advisor to GCC’s PTA Club and is active in the American Physical Therapy Association and its local chapters, offering lectures on orthopedic topics as well as best practices for collaboration between therapists and assistants.  

Dr. Caputi, of Tonawanda, NY, holds certification in the McKenzie approach to mechanical treatment of the spine and also is a certified SpiderTech Taping therapist. In 2015, he gained certification from the Titleist Performance Institute in golf swing analysis and physical assessment of the golfer. He continues his clinical practice in outpatient therapy, pro bono work and private consultation.

Dr. Caputi also coordinates onsite internship opportunities for students at health service providers in the Genesee Region. Students in the GCC PTA program get hands-on lab experience in everything from anatomy to massage, pediatrics to geriatrics. “We emphasize to our students the opportunity they have to make a positive impact on the lives of the people they help through physical therapy,” Professor Kerr said.

For the past three years, 100% of PTA graduates actively seeking jobs secured employment as a PTA within six months of taking the national licensing exam. More than 500 students have graduated from GCC’s PTA program, and they work in facilities as close as Batavia and Rochester and as far away as North Carolina and Texas. Visitors to GCC’s PTA lab are always inspired and impressed by the Alumni Hallway featuring a photograph of each graduation class.

“Hairstyles have changed through the years, but our PTA graduates remain at the cutting edge of their field,” Peggy noted. “This week, I just heard from another graduate, Jude Rhode, class of 2011. She is working at Rehab Optima in Dallas, Texas, and like so many of our graduates, she remarked how delighted she was with GCC’s PTA program. She told me how well prepared she felt in her role at traveling therapy and continues to believe that GCC’s program is one of the best in the country.”

“I’m so glad I went to school at GCC in New York. I felt much better prepared for the demands of a traveling therapist than PTAs from programs in other states. I love going to work, Jude said. “When you do rehabilitation for a patient, you affect not only their lives but their whole families’ lives. It’s so wonderful. I’m also getting paid a phenomenal salary and that is great, too,” she added.

For more information about the PTA program at GCC, contact program director Peggy Kerr at (585) 343-0055 ext. 6366, or via email: pckerr@genesee.edu. GCC’s fall semester starts August 24, 2015, and it is not too late to enroll in fall classes. To explore online go to www.genesee.edu