Being a physical therapist assistant is highly demanding – both physically and mentally. Physically – because you have take care of your patients. You have to help them bend, stoop, raise, and lift themselves. In fact, if you are a bit overweight, you need to start losing those pounds. You have to understand that those extra pounds can literally prevent you from doing your routines. And mentally – because you have to be alert in order to immediately attend to the specific needs of your patients.
Here are some of the factors that you need to weigh in order to pursue your career as a physical therapist assistant:
- Be familiar with your primary duties and responsibilities. As a physical therapist assistant, your main job is to provide invaluable support to a physical therapist. You have to provide assistance while patients are undergoing rehabilitation. You are expected to exposed and experience in aiding cases involving low back pain, fractures, burns, stroke, amputations, heart disease, vertigo, head injuries, cerebral palsy, and/or arthritis, to name a few.
Your daily activities include conducting therapeutic exercises, providing therapeutic massage, observing patients, and evaluating data relevant to the physical condition of your patients. You may also be requested to adjust or fit crutches, leg braces, or any other similar support devices. Likewise, you may be asked to render basic clerical functions like completing forms, ordering office or hospital supplies, and answering phones.
- Be aware of your required academic and professional training. As a physical therapist assistant, you are expected to finish an accredited associate’s degree program before you are given the chance to practice. This shouldn’t be a problem since there are more than 250 certified physical therapist assistant programs all over the country. Programs vary depending on the organization or institution that is conducting it.
Generally, programs should be able to instill the theories and the best practices in the field of physical therapy. You should also gain significant insights about medical sciences and general education subjects. And of course, you should have gained first-hand experience by taking part in a clinical internship either in a local hospital or in a community nursing home.
- Differentiate your job from that of a physical therapist’s. For one, your curriculum as a physical therapist assistant is definitely different from that of a physical therapist’s. However, it is not proper to say that your curriculum is simpler or more basic. Perhaps, it is fair to claim that your subjects are primarily meant to boost your skills in providing assistance to a physical therapist. If in the future, you have convinced yourself to become a physical therapist, you have to become part of an accreditation program.
If you wish to learn more about your job potential, visit the official website of the American Physical Therapy Association, www.apta.org. If you want to be updated about your average annual income (entry level), check out www.salary.com. Of course, your salary range is highly dependent on your academic preparation and on your relevant experience. The state where you plan to practice your professional may also play a significant role. Some states compensate physical therapist assistants compared with others.