Concorde Blog - Mar 15, 2021
"What's my motivation?" It's the question actors famously ask directors when they want to understand why their character is doing something. Samantha Gold had moved from Chicago to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of becoming an actor and comedian. But in 2017, her motivation suddenly changed.
That year, Samantha was diagnosed with cancer of the thyroid gland. Situated in the neck just in front of the windpipe, the thyroid gland plays an important role in regulating the body's metabolism. Samantha's thyroid needed to be removed. She underwent a thyroidectomy, which involved a modified radical neck dissection.
While this surgery saved her from cancer, it also caused complications. During the procedure, Samantha suffered a spinal nerve injury. She would need intensive physical therapy (PT) to recover. Little did she know that she'd be discovering a new purpose in life while completing PT exercises.
Samantha's experience with physical therapy inspired her. She began to see a way she could add value to the rehab industry as a former PT patient who could also bring strong communication skills, empathy and a sense of humor to her work. She asked her physical therapist for advice about training as a physical therapist assistant (PTA). Her physical therapist recommended Concorde in North Hollywood.
"I found Concorde to have incredible customer service throughout the administration from the first contact I had made with them," Samantha recalled in an e-mail. "[The program offered] built-in gen eds, and a close commute from my apartment (as a bonus). It all came together so perfectly."
North Hollywood was the first Concorde campus to offer the PTA program, according to Program Director Dr. Yelena Verba. It's a challenging eight-term program which combines classroom instruction, hands-on training, and 720 hours of clinical experience. Graduates earn an Associate of Science and qualify to sit for the National Physical Therapist Assistant Board exam. After graduation, PTA students also prepare for a state examination, a necessary step towards practicing as a PTA in California.
Dr. Verba says that education is key to being a PTA, and that she relishes playing a role in helping young professionals find their feet in their role. "Teaching allows us to see students evolve into professionals and develop and personally as well as clinically. It is very rewarding, and I love being part of the student's journey to achieve their goals."
Samantha enjoyed her time at Concorde. "One of my favorite memories was when we were learning pelvic floor health, and had plank competitions to see who could last the longest!" She also enjoyed study groups, making time to connect with fellow students while reviewing material. She credits her instructors with keeping her going during challenging times.
"Dr. Karapetyan helped me by believing in me during times I definitely didn't believe in myself," she said. "Mrs. Ranes gave me perspective and grounded me; Mr. Shabbat helped me to think outside the box and look at the bigger picture; and Dr. Verba pushed me to take myself to my next level even when I didn't think I could. The whole team lifted me up and supported me to be the best student I could have been. As corny as it sounds, it's the truth!"
Her persistence and positive energy helped her stand out in her cohort. "Samantha is a very driven person," Dr. Verba said. "She always went out of her way to inspire other students. Her exact words were, 'You cannot look at school as work'."
Dr. Verba also expressed admiration for Samantha's open-mindedness. "Samantha's ability to always be willing to take in the information and learn from everyone and anyone has been a big reason for her success. She truly wants to help people get better and achieve their goals. Her passion and enthusiasm for the field of physical therapy will drive the rehabilitation of many patients."
That passion and enthusiasm shine through in Samantha's advice to future PTA students. "Make the choice to put in positive energy and effort into this program," she wrote. "Even if it gets tough, because that's when the staff supports you. Yes, it is challenging, and this is a good thing. It will help you grow, be disciplined, and prepare you for this honorable and purposeful job. Always remember you get to do this program; you don't have to do it."
Powered by her motivation, positive energy, and hard work, Samantha graduated in May 2020 and she recently become a licensed physical therapist assistant, achieving a rare perfect score of 800 on her PTA licensure examination. Congratulations, Samantha Gold! We are all so proud to have you representing Concorde Career College as you start your "honorable and purposeful" career.
Want to tell your story? We would love to hear from you! If you would like to share how Concorde played a part in your journey to a new future, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.