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Questions for Physical Therapist Assistants?

When do you start your job and why did you choose this job?

Thank you comment icon Hey Noe! One of our amazing volunteers answered your question via video. Watch Margie share her path to becoming a Physical Therapy assistant here (https://vocalvideo.com/v/careervillage-org-reviews-it09whbs)! yoonji KIM, Admin

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Margie’s Answer

Hi Noe,
I am a physical therapy assistant. I have been a PTA for 4 + years now.
I started working right after graduation before my board exam.

Day to day I start seeing my first patient around 9/10am. I work in home health so I get to make my own schedule.

I chose this job because when I was in college for my bachelor's degree, my brother has a sports injury and had to see a physical therapist. I was intrigued and did some research. At the time I was in my second semester of freshman year majoring in Business Marketing and I hated it. I looked into physical therapy and learned that most people majored in something under the human movement umbrella like kinesiology, physiology, exercises science, etc. Luckily my college had an exercise science degree program so I switched majors sophomore year.

After I graduated from college I didn't know what to do. I did every job that would fall under my degree including corporate wellness, personal training, group exercise instructor, chiropractic assistant and physical therapy (PT) tech/aide. I really enjoyed being a PT tech and my co-workers encouraged my to go back to school for PT. I knew my GPA and grades were not going to make the cut for a DPT program and I didn't have the money and I didn't want to pull another loan. I already had $40K in student loan debt from undergrad and DPT school averages $120K. My co-workers told me about the PTA program that wasn't as strict on GPA and was a fraction of the cost (~20K) of the DPT program. I did my research and applied. It was the hardest but best thing I ever did and I love what I do.

I work with people everyday to help them get better and stronger. It is a very rewarding field with lots of options to branch out.

Margie recommends the following next steps:

Observe and shadow different physical therapy clinics and settings to see if you like it.
Look up PT programs in your area whether it is DPT or PTA.
Check prerequisites and apply to the program of your choice.
Go through classes (didactic), labs and clinical rotations in school.
Upon graduation, sit for your board exam.
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Jessica’s Answer

I'm a physical therapist but I've had the pleasure of working with many knowledgeable PTAs throughout schooling and in my current job. The main difference is the evaluation process but both are rehab professionals who can work in a variety of settings. I did 4 years for my bachelors then 3 years for my DPT. I did take 2 years in between to shadow and work to save for school. I chose PT because I love helping people get back to the things they love or even attain goals that they never thought possible. I also like the relationships you develop with patients and the entire rehab team. I've just started my career but I love it and am excited to keep learning!

Jessica recommends the following next steps:

Shadow in a PT clinic and/or hospital
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Beth’s Answer

I am a physical therapist not an assistant but I was fortunate enough to go from high school to college to PT school without any breaks, so I graduated in 1986 with my PT degree. (Then, I could practice with a bachelors and 4 years of school. Now, you need a DPT with 6-7 years of school. PTassistants officially only need 2-3 years of school, but the program is very hard to get into and many students have some college before getting into the program.
I choose PT because I love learning how the body works and helping people be the most functional they can be. I also loved that I can practice without someone watching over my shoulder and I can work in many different settings. It has been a wonderful career!

Beth recommends the following next steps:

Visit APTA.org to learn more about the profession and education requirements.
Shadow a PT/assistant to see if you like it.
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Lauren’s Answer

If you are asking, how old were you when you started, than I graduated when I was 25years old with a class with people ranging from 20-45years of age.

I chose PTA because I had been in school for three years already not knowing what I wanted to do. Took a job as a rehab tech (helping PT/PTA with getting patients hot packs and oing through exercises). When my initial career choice failed, I decided I liked my tech job enough to make it a career. I did not go for PT because the schooling was too long and the pay did not match the amount of schooling. And, if I wanted to do PT eventually, I would always do a bridge program (PTA to PT school). I did fall in love with the career while in school because the human body and it's mechanics are amazing and the effects of disease on the body are intriguing.
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