During its recent commencement ceremony, the University of St Augustine for Health Sciences presented Nicola “Niki” Varveris, PT, DPT, MSPT, MBA, with the Patricia King Alumni Award.

Varveris received the award—named after Dr. Patricia King, who led the university’s effort to gain national accreditation in 1993—to honor her professional development and achievements in the advancement of the clinical practice of occupational or physical therapy.

A published author as well as a practicing physical therapist, Varveris authored the cover story for the February/March 2016 issue of Physical Therapy Products. In addition, she contributed a featurette for an article in the June/July issue of PTP.

“I am so honored to receive the university’s prestigious Patricia King Alumni Award,” says Dr Varveris during the ceremony, in a media release from USAHS. “Receiving this award and having the opportunity to speak at my alma mater is truly the highest honor and the highlight of my achievements over the past 23 years.”

“While earning my undergraduate degree, I knew I wanted to do something with the human body. After recovering from an injury and going through physical therapy, I fell in love with the process and decided to pursue it as a career. Looking back, it was the best decision of my life,” she adds.

Varveris received a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and physiology from the University of California at Davis and a master’s of science in physical therapy from the University of Miami. She later earned a transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from USAHS and an MBA from Florida Gulf Coast University.

In her professional life, she was part of the acute care rehabilitation team at Orlando Regional Medical Center, the director of rehabilitation services at St Cloud Regional Medical Center, and is the owner of her own outpatient private practice, PhysioNetics.

In addition, per the release, she is a Certified Graston Technique provider, Certified Kinesio Taping Practitioner, Certified Balanced-Based Torso-Weighting Therapist, and is Myokinesthetic trained. She is also one of only two physical therapists in the State of Florida to have received Certificate of Achievement in Pregnancy and Postpartum Physical Therapy (CAPP) through the American Physical Therapy Association Section on Women’s Health.

In her spare time, Varveris mentors local high school students who are considering careers in health care, especially physical therapy. Her practice, PhysioNetics, also serves as a clinical site for students attending USAHS, Hodges, Keiser, and the University of Florida. She and her staff at PhysioNetics also support many local nonprofits.

“I am a strong believer in continuing education and always continuing to learn,” Varveris notes, per the release. “Giving back to potential future physical therapists is a truly rewarding experience for me, and I am always happy to provide ongoing expertise.”

“At USAHS, we are so proud to have outstanding alumni, such as Dr Varveris, who are passionate about making a positive impact on the healthcare industry and the communities in which they serve,” says Dr Wanda Nitsch, president and chief academic officer, USAHS, in the release.

“It is an honor to have Dr Varveris as a part of our USAHS community, and we thank her for her commitment to life-long learning, not only for herself, but for healthcare practitioners and our physical therapy students alike.”

In her commencement speech, Varveris emphasized the value of the roles of all physical and occupational therapists.

“You will enhance people’s participation in everyday life,” Varveris states. “Collaborate with your patients, colleagues, mentors, and other health care providers. These are the relationships that will challenge, inspire, and support you along the way and into the future. Above all else, aim to maintain your strong ethical framework and code of conduct, and ultimately become a game changer in the healthcare system.”

[Source: University of St Augusting for Health Sciences]