Name: Ian Thompson
Program: Physical Therapist Assistant
Education/Industry Certifications: PTA, Bachelor of Science, Adult Education; soon to complete Master of Education, Curriculum and Instruction
Has taught at SCC since: 2013
Years of work experience outside SCC: Seven as a PTA. The last five years I have been a PRN (pro re nata) PTA in a skilled nursing and rehabilitation setting, as well as an outpatient clinic. Before coming to SCC I was an outpatient orthopedic therapist and worked in aquatic therapy.
Describe your teaching philosophy.
Students need to be in an environment where they feel supported and have the best opportunity to grow. They learn best by being engaged and by practicing the craft to become better problem solvers and clinicians. Additionally, I feel that students who are taught to respect the profession will get so much more out of it, so I really try to keep students involved in what is going on in the physical therapy world. Finally, I feel that I am a lifelong learner, and I try to instill the importance of that in the students we graduate. I want students to appreciate their education and know that what we are helping them with is just the beginning. They will never stop learning, and that is what will make a great PTA.
Why did you decide to teach at a community college?
I graduated from SCC and really felt if it was not for this institution, I would not have the life I have today. SCC changed my life in many ways, and I wanted an opportunity to continue to be a part of that for future students. The community college plays a vital role in providing affordable opportunities to many, and I wanted to be a part of helping to build a better society.
What can prospective students expect when they enroll in your program?
Prospective students can expect to find a rigorous program, but one that provides many resources and help. We become a close-knit group and really help each other through the learning process. Students will find that they will have a new appreciation for the human body and how it moves.
What experiences outside of SCC do you bring to the classroom/laboratory that enhance student learning?
We have a vast array of professionals who are experts in their particular area of physical therapy that we consult with regularly to make sure our students are getting the most accurate, up to date, and relevant information. We have partnered with many clinics around the Lincoln area to enhance the education of our students.
What advice do you have for students pursuing a degree in your program?
I would advise students to shadow in as many physical therapy settings as possible. Many times, students come in thinking they want to work in an outpatient clinic only because that is the only experience they have. There is so much more to the profession, and students will want to be exposed to as much as possible. In our program, students will be working with other types of patients such as geriatric, pediatric, acute care patients, and skilled nursing patients. The more exposure, the better. I would also tell students to really focus on anatomy and physiology. All classes are very important, but those classes really lay the foundation for what we do in physical therapy.
What do you enjoy most about working with students?
I love to see students change their lives and develop a love for a profession that I love as well. When I see the light come on and see the students begin to perform at a high level, it makes me smile every day. Each student has the opportunity to make a difference in our profession, and I love to see the excitement continue to evolve over time.
What is the best part about being an SCC faculty member?
I love being a part of a team that has a common goal: student success. I feel that we as faculty in the Health Sciences Division are supported and encouraged to do our best and be our best for our students.
What has been your proudest moment as an instructor?
I love graduation day and the pinning ceremonies. One thing I do miss about practicing regularly is to see the difference we can make in the patient over time and to ultimately return a certain amount of function and independence to their lives. The day they discharge is generally a happy day for the clinician and the patient. Graduation day is much the same. We get to celebrate the hard work of the student throughout the program and get to no longer refer to them as our students but now as our peers. To me that is very special.
What do you like to do when you're not teaching?
I love to spend time with my family. Most of my spring, summer and fall is spent at the softball field as I help coach my daughter's club team. I love watching my youngest son play football, and I love talking life with my oldest. My wife and I love to travel, but that has been dampened by the softball. We will get there again, though.
What would students be surprised to know about you?
I think students would be surprised to know that I was once a batboy for the Cincinnati Reds. When I was young, as many kids do, I had a dream to make it to the Major Leagues and play for the Cincinnati Reds. My cousin was Tom Browning, a pitcher for the Reds, so he was able to secure me a spot. So on Sept. 3, 4 and 5, 1988, my dream came true, and I was a major leaguer.
Is there anything you'd like to add?
If you are thinking about going into the profession of physical therapy, do it. Our profession will continue to grow, and there will be a need. We get to help return function to people's lives on a daily basis, and it is a very special thing. Seeing a person walk again, fish again, run again, or whatever they desire is pretty powerful. There is no feeling like it. We brighten the days for many people, and there aren't too many professions that can say that.