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News Archive

SCC Alumna, Professor Receive Awards from National and State Physical Therapy Associations

Chris Garland
Above: Natalie Chris Garland receiving one of two rewards, the 2014 Outstanding Physical Therapist Assistant Service Award from Michael Muscarella, PT, DPT, LDE, KPTA president.
Steve Hammons award
Above: Steve Hammons receiving the inaugural 2014 David A. Pariser Exceptional Educator Award from Michael Muscarella, PT, DPT, LDE, KPTA president.

Natalie Chris Garland, an alumna of the Somerset Community College Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program, and John Steve Hammons, PTA associate professor and director of the SCC McCreary Center, were both given awards recently from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and the Kentucky Physical Therapy Association (KPTA).

Natalie Chris Garland
Garland, a graduate of SCC and currently a PTA and department director with Cumberland County Hospital in Burkesville, was recently named one of 17 national emerging leaders by APTA. She was also presented with the 2014 Outstanding Physical Therapist Assistant Service Award by the KPTA.

The following excerpt from PT in Motion, October 2014 edition, provides information on the Emerging Leaders award. PT in Motion is the magazine for members of the APTA.

Like many of those described as natural leaders, Natalie Chris Garland, PTA, dislikes the term. A 2011 graduate of the physical therapist assistant program at Kentucky's Somerset Community College, where she was president of her class and the elected delegate to the APTA student assembly board of directors, Garland says leadership, for her, is all about being involved. And the lead, when shes taken it, simply has been a matter of doing what's right.

My personality, she said, is one where if I see an issue and I know that I can do something about it, I just jump in with my sleeves rolled up.

Garland was nominated for the APTA Emerging Leader Award by her colleagues at the Kentucky Physical Therapy Association, where she is the PTA caucus representative and a member of the board. In their letter to APTAs Awards committee, which judges the entrants, the KPTA president, Michael Muscarella, PT, DPT, described Garland as passionate about legislative affairs, an outstanding mentor to PTA students, and the kind of individual who walks the walk and talks the talk when it comes to professional involvement.

But Garland acknowledges that physical therapy wasn't first in her thoughts when she graduated from high school, nor when she graduated from college. She studied elementary education in college, in the early 1990s, but ultimately decided against becoming a teacher. Years later, following a first career in marketing and inspired by her mothers successful rehabilitation after a skiing accident, she switched gears entirely to enroll in school to become a PTA, found a job as a physical therapy aide, and attended APTA's National Student Conclave.

Drawing on her previous experiences, she says some of what she learned in marketing can be applied to physical therapy.

We, as PTs and PTAs, provide services on an intimate level. It is key to build relationships of familiarity and trust quickly. As someone with a marketing background, I believe its even more vital to start building relationships before physical therapy is even needed. Volunteering in your community, getting to know your neighbors, and putting yourself in the midst of the social network (not necessarily the online social network) will plant the seeds of your services early. When a need arises, those grassroots connections will put PTs and PTAs in the forefront of the potential patients mind.

Being there, of course, is a fundamental requirement for any great leader. Even more important, though, is the way in which that individual takes you there. Somersets clinical coordinator, Steve Hammons, PT, DPT, calls it, their level of commitment and involvement. Some people, Hammons notes, are really good at telling people what to do, while others are really good at leading by example. Garland, he says, leads by example. Her desire truly is to make our profession better for PTs, PTAs and patients alike.


John Steve Hammons
John Steve Hammons, SCC PTA associate professor and director of the SCC McCreary Center, was presented with the 2014 David A. Pariser Exceptional Educator Award by the Kentucky Physical Therapy Association (KPTA).

Hammons also serves as the Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education for SCC's PTA Program where his accomplishments have earned him accolades, including a Teacher of the Year Award. He has also received the New Horizons Award for Faculty Excellence, the National Institute of Staff and Organizational Development Award and the Somerset-Pulaski County Educator of the Year Award.

His innate ability to develop his students into leaders has brought national attention to the Somerset Community College PTA Program. Dr. Hammons' students have been elected to positions within the APTA National Student Assembly, have received APTA national and section scholarships and many named PTA student of the year by APTA's orthopedic, geriatric and other sections.

Hammons serves on APTAs NEXT Conference Planning Committee, on KPTA's Professional Continued Competency Committee and Nominating Committee and participates in KPTA's FunFitness Screenings for Special Olympics athletes.

One student said about him: Dr. Hammons exceeds the qualifications of a professor. He is kind, passionate, flexible, respectful, personable and charitable. He makes learning fun, yet challenging. And a colleague of Hammons said: He is among the most hard-working, conscientious and dependable individuals I have been blessed to know. His commitment to excellence, service to community and his profession, outcomes related to his efforts and, yes, even his quick wit and sense of humor merit consideration of this award.