We’d like to introduce you to Scott Thompson, the Program Director for the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) associate degree program at our Pleasant Hill, CA, campus. Much more than just being the Director, Scott put the PTA program together from scratch.
A licensed physical therapist specialized in orthopedics, Scott graduated in 1996 with a degree in Physical Therapy from University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. Scott got his first taste of teaching while instructing continuing education classes back in 1999/2000, but started teaching full time several years later; “I got my first full-time teaching gig in 2005 at another northern California college; I really loved being in the classroom and enjoyed the interaction with the students.”
Unfortunately that college succumbed to the economic downturn, so Scott found his way back to clinical practice for a couple of years, but he soon discovered that he missed teaching; he needed to find his way back to the classroom.
“By pure chance I discovered that Carrington [at the time Western Career College] wanted to start a PTA program. They were looking for someone to conduct a feasibility study, and I thought here’s my chance to get back in!”
Scott joined Carrington College California as a consultant in the spring of 2009 to carry out that feasibility study, and then became a full time member of the Pleasant Hill faculty in September 2009. He spent a little over a year developing the curriculum, identifying sites for clinical rotations, developing handbooks, formulating policy, and getting ready for the accreditation process.
The first Physical Therapist Assistant students came through the doors of the Pleasant Hill campus in October 2010, a full 18 months after Scott first sat at his desk at the outset of the project and thought, “OK, where do I start!” That first class graduates this year, and Scott is thrilled with the program and how the entire class has reacted to it;
“The curriculum we developed here is very different to the program I worked on before; I really wanted to improve it, and put my own stamp on it.”
But having created the program from scratch, there were nervous moments in the early days;
“When we sent that first class to their initial clinical rotation, you think you’ve done a good job teaching them, but you’re never 100% sure! But back in class after the first Friday rotation, every single student said it was great, there was nothing they saw that they didn’t know how to do! And that was so nice to hear!
When I think back to my own first clinical rotation, it was a nightmare. We hadn’t gone over some of the stuff, so I stood there feeling like an idiot that first day, things were moving so fast and I felt I didn’t know anything. It’s great to know we improved on that experience for our students.”
A real testament to Scott’s work came from an instructor at one of those first clinical sites, who commented that “If this is what Carrington students are like, then we’ll take more down the road.”
Now 4 months into the second intake of students, Scott is encouraged by the age range of the students who are enrolling in the program;
“We don’t get too many students straight out of high school on this program, but we do have a nice mix; in this class we have some students in their early 20s, some who are a little older, and one gentleman who has decided it’s time for a career change after many years working as an engineer.”
Scott was born in Seattle, WA, to Scottish parents who moved the family back to the old country when he was just 3 weeks old. The family came back Stateside when he was 3, and settled in the Boston, MA, area. After high school Scott moved back to Scotland to learn more about his roots and to travel; “After high school, I raced bicycles in Europe, before I decided that I needed to go to college.”
He came out west for school, and hasn’t looked back, not that he doesn’t miss the east coast. “There’s just something about the west coast; I just love the scenery out here, and the opportunity for getting outside.” Scott now lives in Oakland, CA.
To allow us to get to know Scott a little better we asked him what book, movie and music would he make sure he had with him if were ever stranded on a desert island? And who we he like to be stranded with!
Desert Island Companion
“Oh let’s see…I’ll say Natalie Portman, she’s beautiful and bright! Maybe a little too young for me, but this is a fantasy question after all isn’t it!?”
Desert Island Book
“My students and people who know me will laugh; I’ll have to say my physics text book. Even though I’m a physical therapist, I’m a physics geek!”
Desert Island Movie
“I’d have to go with Borat I think; I love that movie.”
Desert Island Music
“I’d go with The Best of The Smiths; I’m a huge Smiths fan.”
Thanks for your time Scott! And good luck tracking down Natalie Portman!
For comprehensive consumer information, please visit carrington.edu/schools/pleasant-hill-california/physical-therapist-assistant-program/