Kimberly Tarver, PT, MPH, professor of physical therapist assistant, is the recipient of the 2022 Illinois Physical Therapy Association (IPTA) Outstanding Academic Educator Award. Established in 2019, the award recognizes a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant who has demonstrated excellence as a faculty member in preparation of entry level physical therapist students or entry level physical therapist assistant students.
Several Elgin Community College faculty members nominated Tarver for this award, including Barbara Ostrowska, PT, DPT, OCS, physical therapy assistant program director. “Professor Tarver’s performance as a faculty and clinician is a perfect example of excellence, dedication, and commitment to advocate and promote physical therapy,” said Ostrowska. “What truly makes Kim an outstanding academic educator is her unyielding devotion to student success. She is known for taking action and helping students when everyone gives up, and resources are hard to find.”
As an adult student, Tarver returned to school and earned an Associate in Science degree from Waubonsee Community College and was accepted into the physical therapy program at University of Illinois at Chicago. There, she formed gross anatomy and neuroanatomy study groups to help herself and her classmates. “I think that’s when the teaching bug started buzzing around,” said Tarver. She went on the start her practice as a physical therapist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago at the Bowman Center for Rehabilitation. She joined the faculty at ECC in 1996 while continuing on as a part-time therapist at Rush working summers, holidays, and sporadic weekends until 2004. Since then, in addition to training the next generation of physical therapist assistants at ECC, Tarver continues her clinical practice providing home-health physical therapy services and some rural skilled nursing facilities. “I have been so fortunate to combine teaching and physical therapy into one amazing and fulfilling career,” said Tarver.