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Bay State College PTA Student Receives Distinguished Ruth P. Hall Award

By Meaghan Cayer on November 5, 2016
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Kaitlin Kolesnikoff accepting the Ruth P. Hall Award

On November 5, 2016, Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) student Kaitlin Kolesnikoff received the Ruth P. Hall award. This award, offered through the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), is designed to recognize a physical therapy and physical therapist assistant student who demonstrate the professional qualities of dedication and caring which exemplified the Physical Therapy career of its namesake, Ruth Hall. 

From the beginning of her time at Bay State College, Kaitlin has exemplified the characteristics associated with Ruth Hall. Professors describe her as "a gregarious and caring individual who values education and professional growth," "an empathetic and sincere young professional with a tireless work ethic and a kind heart," and "a sturdy shoulder to lean on, a compassionate ear to listen to, and an ambitious leader to follow." 

These characteristics were evident when under her leadership as president of the PTA club. Kaitlin and the board members met with the first year students to answer any questions they had. She was able to appropriately respond to the first year students’ varying emotional states when they expressed how excited, overwhelmed and stressed they felt by the intensity of the PTA program. After talking with them about the program and the things they could do to be successful, she then initiated and developed a mentor program for first year students. This mentor program was well received by the students and is already being implemented. 

The very skills she demonstrated with fellow students are the same skills she exemplified during her clinical affiliation. Her clinical instructor was impressed with how well she related to and connected with her patients no matter what their emotional state and found this especially impressive given this was her first clinical affiliation. 

The ability to identify areas for growth can be difficult for many students, but not Kaitlin. She was able to identify her needs in regards to her own educational experience and regularly attended open lab and office hours to address those needs. She asked questions in a respectful manner, successfully worked with peers on group projects and was always willing to help other students in lab by demonstrating or making specific recommendations about a skill they were learning. For example, when working with fellow students in her Introduction to Physical Therapy transfers lab, Kaitlin was able to demonstrate the transfer skills to her peers and offered constructive, respectful recommendations on how the other student might improve their abilities (i.e different hand placements, utilizing better body mechanics). 

Again, her ability to identify other students’ needs and communicate with ease directly related to her clinical experience. Her clinical instructor reported Kaitlin was able to not only effectively communicate with the patients but was also able to communicate with other healthcare professionals in a respectful and mature manner. Her clinical instructor was extremely impressed with her demeanor, work ethics and how prepared she was when working with patients. 

Kaitlin’s desire to learn was always evident in class through her thoughtful and well-formed questions. She values education and has voiced the importance of continued education once she graduates as she knows how important this is to providing quality patient care. Her desire to learn and her want for continued professional growth led her and the rest of the PTA board to raise funds to send students to our annual conference so they could begin to experience educational opportunities that will continue to be available to them after graduation. Getting fellow students to value their education and their contribution to the profession is evident in all of Kaitlin’s actions. 

Kaitlin’s humble and approachable manner also makes her a wonderful resource for students interested in learning more about how they might become involved in the APTA of MA. Since she is currently serving as a PTA student representative for the Southern Metro District in the Massachusetts assembly (the first PTA student to volunteer for the position), she was well equipped to speak with another student and answer her questions. This student was initially apprehensive about becoming a PTA student assembly representative. Through discussion, the student was able to inquire about the responsibilities of the position and realized she, too, could contribute to the profession at the assembly level and is in the process of submitting her application for the position. 

Carolyn Cwalinksi, the PTA faculty member who nominated Kaitlin for the award, stated, "All of Kaitlin’s attributes benefit her whether it is in regards to her educational experience, ability to advocate for patients or ways to grow within our professional organization. I admire all the things Kaitlin has already done and look forward to seeing the great things Kaitlin will accomplish in the future. She truly exemplifies the all of the wonderful characteristics of Ruth P. Hall." 

Kaitlin is overwhelmed to be a recipient of the Ruth P. Hall award.  "It's so amazing to look back on all the years of struggling in school with my learning disabilities," she said. "I feel like I have finally found my way and I am starting to find confidence in myself that I never knew I had. I can't thank Professor Cwalinski enough for all of her guidance and encouragement over the last year and a half - it means the world to me!" 

We look forward to having Kaitlin in our PTA program for the remainder of her time at Bay State College, and know she will continue to make us proud in her future endeavors after she graduates!