St. Catherine University Physical Therapist Assistant-Bachelor’s Completion (BSPTA) student Jody Wolowicz, ASPTA’93, BSPTA’22 has been looking at PTA bachelor’s completion programs across the country for the last eight years. Wolowicz graduated from St. Kate’s with her PTA associate degree in 1993, and has been working in the field for over 27 years. “I love my role as a PTA, but I wanted to further my education in this role and completing my bachelor’s degree would allow for that to happen,” she says. When PTA program director Holly Clynch, PT, DPT, MA, reached out to Wolowicz about St. Kate’s new program — which started in fall 2020 — Wolowicz says, “I didn’t have to even think about it. I knew with the reputation of St. Kate’s PT and PTA programs that this would be a perfect fit.”
Wolowicz has been a staff PTA at OSI Physical Therapy — a PT-owned outpatient orthopedic practice — for 26 years. She holds a Specialty Certification in Orthopedics through Evidence in Motion, and has her Advanced Proficiency in Orthopedics and is a credentialed Clinical Instructor through the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). She treats all orthopedic conditions including the spine and temporomandibular joint (TMJ). She loves that in her role as a PTA, she is changing people’s lives for the better. “It makes me incredibly proud when my past patients come back and update me on how they’re doing. They share stories and pictures of finished marathons, hikes through the hills of Scotland, or ice skating in the Netherlands. My favorites are when I’ve been invited to their high school sporting event to watch them in action and they and their parents introduce me as their PTA who helped get them here. When I can accomplish those things, I know I’m doing something right.”
St. Kate’s flexible, online BSPTA program is made for working PTAs, developing students’ advanced skills and knowledge in areas such as pharmacology, nutrition, health and wellness coaching, manual therapy, and rehabilitation management. Students also gain a deep understanding of societal issues impacting healthcare. “Because of St. Kate’s commitment to their community and values, their graduates are confident, strong, caring leaders,” says Wolowicz. “My experiences at St. Kate’s illustrate the value of being a lifelong learner. It makes me proud when I tell someone where I graduated from and they respond with ‘I’ve heard that’s a great school!’”
Going back to school after 28 years was a transition, especially with courses completely online. However, Wolowicz says that — just like during her previous time at St. Kate’s — the faculty and staff have been incredibly supportive along the way. “I think the thing that surprised me most was that it didn’t take long to fall back into the groove of learning. I’m back with the St. Kate’s community that started me on my journey of caring. There is a comfort in going back to where you started.” Additionally, Wolowicz has built a nationwide community with her fellow classmates, who are learning online with her from Texas, Arizona, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, and Iowa.
With her bachelor’s degree, Wolowicz plans to work on program development at her clinic and pursue further certifications to serve her patients better, all of which would have been out of reach without her bachelor’s degree. “I want to grow my leadership in the PTA profession and would love the opportunity to teach. I am also hoping that I, along with the St. Kate’s PTA-Bachelor’s program, can further promote and grow the role of PTAs and the PTA profession.”