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Lisa Flick O'Connor named Physical Therapist Assistant of the Year

Lisa Flick O'Connor

Lisa Flick O’Connor, a physical therapist assistant (PTA) in the rehabilitation department at Skagit Regional Health (SRH), has recently been awarded the honor of “Physical Therapist Assistant of the Year” by the American Physical Therapy Association of Washington (APTA WA).Flick O’Connor began working at Skagit Regional Health as a student during her clinicals in the fall of 2022 and later accepted a position in January 2023. She believes in the work of the APTA to advance the physical therapy profession through high-level leadership and both small- and large-scale advocacy efforts. She believes that the resources, support and mentorship opportunities that are available make it a great resource for physical therapy professionals.

Flick O’Connor has been very involved as a PTA in the American Physical Therapy Association Washington Chapter (APTA WA) since the beginning of her educational career. She began volunteering as a student leader and her involvement eventually grew to the national level by the time she graduated. National involvement has led her to participate in student leadership programming at the annual APTA Leadership Congress in Washington DC, and return to DC a second time as one of 25 Leadership Scholars from around the US.

“As a new grad and Core Ambassador for Washington, I mapped out a plan to travel to PT and PTA schools across the state, connected with program directors to schedule/host my visits and secured travel funding from the Board of Directors,” said Flick O’Connor. “The goal of this was to support the Student Advocacy Night that our student PT/PTA group was hosting in April of this year. I also began a social media page to increase visibility and procured raffle prizes for Advocacy Night which was a great success. In addition to this, I participated in our Legislative Impact Day in Olympia last winter, speaking about passing legislation that broadens the PT scope of practice.”

She has a passion for mentoring students preparing for their national board exam, as well as creating a stronger student/PTA community through networking opportunities.

“My work with the APTA this year has been largely geared toward students,” said Flick O’Connor. “At SRH, I have shared information with my colleagues on involvement, current projects and conferences that I attend. The conversations help to bring awareness to professional opportunities outside the hospital and have stimulated great lunchtime conversations during my (almost) year at SRH.”

According to their website, the APTA WA awards an active PTA member of the Washington chapter who, in the year they receive the award, will have “demonstrated active participation in the Association business that supports the goals and objectives. This could include committee or task force work, legislative involvement or general support for the Association and its members. This person will have participated above the average member and be recognized for exceptional conduct.”

The APTA WA Board of Directors certainly noticed all that Flick O’Connor has done. They nominated her for this award for being a highly involved new graduate and doing active work across the state to support APTA awareness to students and PTAs.

For Flick O’Connor, receiving this award is a full-circle moment, and a place from which to launch herself even further.

“When I was a student, my instructor had just received this award for the year. I remember thinking, ‘wow, how amazing to have a body of professional work large enough to be recognized outside the clinic, when most of our daily work is largely clinical,” said Flick O’Connor. “I thought I might be able to achieve an award like this in 5 to 10 years down the road, so it is an absolute honor to receive it early in my career. I can move on to bigger dreams now!”

Flick O’Connor most enjoys the diversity of the various departments she works with and the collaboration among her peers. She continues to keep her sights set on what she is passionate about at Skagit Regional Health and with APTA WA.

“It’s wonderful to have a passion that feels natural, not like a ‘job,’ and to have others recognize the impact and hard work that goes into it,” said Flick O’Connor.

For more information on the American Physical Therapy Association, click here.