Central Penn College - Allied health students creating a buzz

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April 18, 2013 Allied health students creating a buzz

April is national occupational therapy month and April 22-26 is national medical laboratory professionals week

In recognition of national occupational therapy month (April) and national medical laboratory professionals week (April 22-26), Central Penn College allied health students are working to spread awareness of their chosen career fields.

Occupational Therapy Assisting (OTA) – associate degree

Throughout the week of April 22, OTA students will be involved in various activities to educate others on the role of occupational therapy practitioners. On April 23 and 25, the OTA association, which is Central Penn’s OTA club, will host games for the campus community in the Advanced Technology Education Center (ATEC) to show the various life skills that OTAs can teach their patients. The games will show the adaptive equipment that OTAs use and will teach other students about balance and hand/eye coordination.

With April also being national rebuilding month, Central Penn College is partnering with Rebuilding Together of Greater Harrisburg on Saturday, April 27 to rehabilitate the homes of low income, disabled and elderly homeowners. Twelve OTA students and Professor Danell Frank will provide repair work to enable these homeowners to live independently and with dignity. With close to 200 total volunteers, Rebuilding Together of Greater Harrisburg will enhance 15 houses in Dauphin, Cumberland and Perry counties and the Five Senses community garden in Harrisburg. Later in the year, OTA students will again partner with Rebuilding Together to assess homes regarding modifications that can be made to improve the homeowners’ quality of life.

“Occupational therapy is a growing profession in the medical world,” says Danell Frank, academic fieldwork coordinator and licensed certified occupational therapy assistant. “Central Penn’s OTA program is also growing with the start of our second group of students this month. Next term, students will start their fieldwork (internships) in the clinics. The support that the program has had from the therapy community in this area has been amazing and shows me that the profession will only continue to strengthen.”

A tree planting ceremony is being organized on the Summerdale campus by the OTA association on April 26 at 11:30 a.m. behind Bollinger Hall. The red oak tree will represent the growth of the new OTA program which began being offered in February 2012. The first class of OTA students, slated to graduate in spring 2014, will donate a plaque for the tree at that time.

A video developed by OTA students has been posted to the Central Penn College website at www.centralpenn.edu/ota to educate others on what occupational therapy really is. Graduates of Central Penn’s OTA program will be prepared to take the exam to practice as Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTAs), helping people achieve independence and learn to live productive lives through the use of meaningful activities and life roles.

“I want to become an occupational therapy assistant because I am passionate about helping others overcome their limitations and reach their full potential,” says full-time adult student and OTA association president Cindy Pereira. “Whether they have developmental disabilities or are suffering from a life-altering injury, everyone deserves the chance to lead a full and productive life. As an occupational therapy assistant, I will be able to help others cope with the everyday challenges that they face.”

The OTA program was granted developing program status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. (AOTA). Now in self study mode, Central Penn’s OTA program is on track for accreditation in August 2014. Currently, there are ten programs within Pennsylvania accredited by ACOTE that award occupational therapy assistant degrees, with Central Penn College being the only program supporting the Central Pa. region. In May, Central Penn is partnering with Elizabethtown College, which offers a graduate degree in occupational therapy, to host a joint fieldwork education event for fieldwork educators.

Medical Assisting (MA) – associate degree

As part of medical laboratory professionals week (April 22-26), an annual celebration of the laboratory professionals and pathologists who play a vital role in every aspect of health care, Central Penn will recognize four medical assisting students who just passed the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) phlebotomy technician certification exam last week. The four students who applied to take the test—which is above and beyond curriculum requirements—passed. According to the American Society for Clinical Pathology, medical lab techs often work behind the scenes and few people know about the critical testing they perform every day. 

“Central Penn’s medical assisting students are prepared for certain medical laboratory professional positions such as phlebotomy and in the accessioning (accepting and preparing samples) department of the lab,” says Nikki Marhefka, medical assisting program director, who specialized as a medical laboratory technician. “Many medical assistants use lab skills in physicians’ offices each day as they perform point-of-care testing and do blood draws.”

In addition to daytime classes, the medical assisting program is also available in a unique hybrid program, a combination of evening classes on the Summerdale campus and online classes. The hybrid program provides busy adults with a flexible, convenient option to complete their degree, while also getting the hands-on experience necessary to prepare patients for exams, administer medications and injections or assist with minor surgery.

The medical assisting program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (wwww.caahep.org) upon the recommendation of the Medical Assisting Education Review Board (MAERB).

Those interested in a career as a medical assistant are invited to attend an online information session on May 29 at noon. Event registration is required at www.centralpenn.edu/events.

Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) – associate degree

A physical therapy assistant (PTA) assists a physical therapist in providing services that help improve mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities of patients suffering from injuries or disease. One of the most popular and competitive degree programs at Central Penn, the PTA program caps enrollment at 30 students. Limited enrollment ensures there are enough healthcare facilities in the area to support the students’ clinical hands-on fieldwork requirements and that students are provided with personalized instruction.

Upon graduation, students are eligible to sit for their national physical therapy examination. A passing score must be obtained before practicing as a PTA. This week, four graduates passed their exams, bringing the 2012 first-time pass rate to 95 percent, 10 percent above the national average. The college’s three-year pass rate is also well above the 80 percent national average at 89 percent.

The physical therapist assistant program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education of the American Physical Therapy Association (CAPTE/APTA).

Business administration, healthcare administration concentration – bachelor’s degree

Focusing on the business end of patient care, this degree provides students with the understanding of the role of public policies and politics in the healthcare industry, the various component sectors and the planning methods used within the healthcare field.

For information about enrolling in a Central Penn College allied health program, visit www.centralpenn.edu/health or call 1-800-759-2727.


Central Penn College has been helping students turn potential into career success since 1881, now offering bachelor's and associate degrees in the fields of accounting, business administration, criminal justice, information technology, communications, healthcare, homeland security, legal studies and organizational leadership. The college, currently serving students at its Harrisburg, Lancaster and Lehigh Valley locations, attributes its high rate of student success to a caring faculty and its hands-on learning approach. Based on Central Penn’s most recent One-Year Graduate Survey, 82.9 percent of graduates were employed in their chosen field or continuing their education within one year of graduation. Central Penn College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (267-284-5000). The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. www.centralpenn.edu