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1. Can you explain to young people just what a Physical Therapist Assistant is? Physical Therapist Assistants help and work under a Physical Therapist rehabilitating patients with health related conditions that limit their ability to move and to do their usual activities. PTAs assist by working with people doing manual techniques such as massage and stretching exercises and instructing the patient with exercises they can do at home to help the healing process. You may also teach patients how to use wheelchairs, crutches,etc.
2. What is the best part of your job? I’d say the best part of my job is when a patient progresses very well and they are so excited that they are returning to their normal lifestyle. It could be as simple as walking down their street, returning to work, playing a sport, lifting their child or grandchild!
3. What would you say is the most difficult aspect of your career choice? I myself feel that it is very hard to realize that “not everyone will progress like you would like”. You need to adjust and get the full potential out of every individual patient. You are only 1/2 of their recovery, THEY need to do their part at home like being consistent with home exercises and following instructions.
4. Do you have a memory you’d like to share with young people concerning your job? One of my best memories would be when my wife and I were at a Christmas show one year and someone came up to my wife and myself and proceeded to tell my wife how much I had helped her “get her life back”.
5. What are the necessary skills/degrees needed to become a physical therapist assistant? A physical therapist assistant is required to hold an associate degree from a physical therapist assistants’ program(two years). You must also keep up on CPR certification. You need to have good interpersonal skills, have a willingness to help people with various levels of pain and progress, be able to work as a team to help patients, be a good motivator to your patients and be able to have writing skills and organizational skills to keep good records on patients.
6. Any suggestions for young people who might be interested in your career? How can they begin now to get prepared for your career? Stay strong in your math and science classes(especially biology, physics and chemistry) and stay fit yourself. It is hard to help others if you have chronic pain yourself due to lack of physical exercise.
7. Where can you work as a physical therapist assistant? You can work in a variety of settings including hospitals, private clinics, sports’ clinics, nursing facilities, schools, home health care and the military.
8. Describe a typical day at your job? I work in a private clinic so the main responsibility would be the patient and patient care. Most of the day, I treat and monitor patients as well as doing the paperwork of the patients that I have seen.
9. What got you interested in becoming a physical therapist assistant? Did anything in school or your childhood help in your decision to enter this career? I was always very active when I was growing up and I also became involved in Tae Kwon Do. I learned to understand the importance of being able to do the things you love and need!
10. Where do you currently work as a Physical Therapist assistant? I work at Southern Tier Physical Therapy of Binghamton, New York. I have been a PTA there for 17 years and love it!
Note: Illustration from WPClipart.com