Faculty & Staff Spotlights
Dr. Karen S Jones
Associate Professor, Director Physical Therapist Assistant Program
AAS Physical Therapist Assistant Herkimer College
BS, DPT Physical Therapy Utica College
American Physical Therapy Association
Orthopedics, Sports, and Neurology Section member
Faculty Liaison NYPTA and Herkimer College
Alpha Eta Society: National Allied Health Honors Society
PTA Program Advisory Committee Chair
Honors & Awards:
SUNY Chancellors Award for Excellence in Teaching 2008
Genesis Distinguished Service Award PTA program 2012
Genesis Outstanding Program Award PTA program 2018
What is something unique or important for people to know about your program?
Herkimer College offers a two year degree that prepares students to be a Physical Therapist Assistant. Upon completion of this degree and passing the National Board Examination, students are able to go right out into the field and work as a Physical Therapist Assistant. There are many job opportunities and a decent salary for a 2 year degree. A Physical Therapist Assistant can work with infants, children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly. They work in outpatient and inpatient specialty areas such as sports, orthopedics, neurology, pediatrics, and cardiopulmonary. Physical Therapist Assistants are employed in outpatient facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, sport facilities, school systems, home health care, and can work as traveling therapists. Each student will complete 3 fieldwork experiences during the program. They will perform “hands on” treatments with the information they learn in the classroom on actual patients. This “hands on” learning experience, along with all of the in depth instruction within the classroom will prepare students to work in the field upon completion of this two year program.
What inspired you to become an educator?
What inspired me to become an educator is that I truly love what I do as a Physical Therapist. I am passionate about my career. By instilling knowledge in my students, I feel I can make a difference in the Physical Therapy profession as a whole. The more knowledgeable the Physical Therapist Assistant students are that enter the profession, the more people they can help in the field. I truly believe that to be a good teacher, you have to like what you do.
What do you find most rewarding about teaching and why?
I teach the Physical Therapist Assistant students for two years at Herkimer. I see them at the very beginning of their college careers coming in with little to no knowledge of the profession. I have the unique experience of getting to watch the students grow in their knowledge base over the two year time frame. It is a great feeling to see how much they have learned. I have taught in this program since 2002 and I continue to look forward to seeing the students succeed and walk across the stage at graduation, call me or text me to tell me they passed the National Board examination, and email me with all of their first professional job information.
What attracted you to Herkimer College?
I was actually a graduate of the Physical Therapist Assistant program here at Herkimer College, and graduated in the very first PTA class. I absolutely loved my experience here and felt like I wanted to give back to the college and to the profession. I had some amazing professors here that I felt truly cared about students as individuals and I wanted to carry this on in my field. Faculty and staff get to know you as a person and not just a face in the crowd. They are there to help students succeed. Additionally, this college has some amazing views looking over the valley.
What other roles do you play at Herkimer College (i.e. club advisor, coach, etc.)? Why is it important to you to be involved in that capacity?
While teaching at Herkimer College, I am involved in many other roles. One of the most important roles for me is that I am the PTA club advisor. The students have many meetings throughout the years, have fundraisers, and are involved in many on and off campus activities. We bring in guest speakers to talk about subject matter we discuss in class. The senior students have opportunities to go with me to a national physical therapy conference where they network with thousands of Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants in the field, learn more information in areas they are interested in with hundreds of choices on topics, and can see the latest technology and equipment in the field from vendors. Students assist me in many health and wellness fairs, career days, and open houses. Each of these events promotes the profession, the program and Herkimer College. I am the PTA program Advisory Committee Chair. This committee brings in PT’s and PTA’s from the field to review our program and give us insight into things we can do to improve our program and best prepare our students for the field. Additionally, I continue to do per diem in the physical therapy field. In order to best teach the information, one should stay current in the field. I continue to spend time at local physical therapy facilities treating patients to remain current in my practice.
What do students need to know in order to succeed in college?
To succeed in college, students need to take it seriously and realize that it is their preparation for their careers. This means that they need to show up for classes on time and prepared. They need to treat classes as if it is their job to get ready for the next phase of their life. Respecting their teachers and those around them is important as it makes for a good learning environment. Joining clubs and getting involved in campus activities are great ways to connect with other students and the campus community. Students also need to realize there are many services available to help them on campus such as the Academic Support Center and peer tutors. They can use these services to help them in areas of weakness or to better prepare for tests, quizzes, and assignments. Most of all, students need to remember why they are in college and what their goals are in life. If they want something enough and they work hard, they can achieve what they set their minds to.