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On Becoming and Being a PTA

 

This post features two authors who shed more light on being a physiotherapist assistant (PTA). Aurelie writes about how she decided to pursue being a PTA, and Amy explains what it actually means to be one.

Part I – The Backstory: How I Became a PTA

Aurelie Dimandja, PTA

I remember the summer before I went into the Occupational Therapy Assistant Physiotherapist Assistant (OTA/PTA) program.1 I had just received news that I did not make it into the next level of the Nursing program. At the time, nursing was all I knew; it was the one thing that was constantly instilled in me to do.

That summer, I was given two choices: I could either repeat level one of the nursing program and follow what I knew as my career passion, or, take a break and figure out what I was meant to do.

I chose the third option, which is one that is easily dismissed: I listened to the words of my family, and followed my instincts.

This choice has brought me different challenges in my journey, which has allowed me to grow as both a PTA and as an individual.

 

The PTA who cares

You may be asking, what type of challenges arise with being a PTA? The truth is, there are many.

Each of us has our own stories to share – and our own challenges.  Mine began during my placement. I had many doubts:

Was I suited for this role?

What distinguished me from every other PTA?

Could I see myself working with seniors, mental health, stroke, or young adults with developmental delay and disabilities?

One client I met during my placement at Brantwood Community Services in Brantford, Ontario, helped me leave all of my concerns behind.

He looked me in the eye and said “As you begin working in this field, please remember that patients always know which ones are in it because they truly care for their patients, and those who are not. We may look helpless to you, but we still know”.

Now whenever I face “challenges”, I think about his message. It changed my perspective.

Now when I’m asked what I most like about being a PTA, my answer is simple: I get to advocate for patients like the one in Brantford, my colleagues, our student PTA’s and the future of our profession.

Till this day, I share his message with others, because I am a PTA who cares.

Part II – What it’s like to be a PTA

Amy Stacey, PTA

Since graduating from the College of the North Atlantic’s Physiotherapist Assistant program in 2000, I have worked as a Physiotherapist Assistant (PTA) with Eastern Health in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

I currently work in an adult Rehabilitation Center, but I have worked in many practice areas, including:

  • Medicine
  • General surgery
  • In and outpatient orthopedics
  • Neurology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Both private clinic and community settings.

The PTA’s role

As PTAs, our role is to help patients meet goals they identify. The favorite part of my job is direct patient care, where I get to observe patients regain their independence and quality of life.

Our hope to get our patients to return as close to their prior level of function as possible and prevent or slow further decline.

Ongoing professional development

Over the years, I’ve taken a special interest in the neuro population. To further my understanding of the topic, I have taken:

  • Introduction to Neuro-Developmental Theory and Treatment
  • Canadian Hemispheres Stroke Competency Series
  • Any type of educational sessions offered to help further my skills in this area of practice.

The PTA advocate

In addition to helping patients achieve their goals, PTAs have an opportunity to do more. I discovered that the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) had an assembly for physiotherapist assistants and knew that I wanted to be involved. I emailed the former president, Sandra Lamb, and found myself helping with the National Physiotherapist Assistant Assembly (NPAA).

I now advocate for Canadian PTAs. Currently, I serve as the President of the NPAA, where I volunteer with our regional and student representatives. We advocate for our profession and bring you valuable information about PTAs and student PTAs across Canada.

About the NPAA

While some of you are familiar with the Assembly, there are others who are curious to learn more:

The National Physiotherapist Assistant Assembly (NPAA)

  • We represent PTAs with a unified voice across Canada
  • We elect our own volunteer leaders to show our position with CPA and to the physiotherapy profession community
  • We enhance communication amongst PTAs and student PTAs
  • Members benefit from the networking, professional development and ability to have a direct voice in shaping the future of physiotherapist assistants in Canada
  • We encourage student involvement and leadership opportunities within CPA and our profession
  • We communicate with PTA programs across Canada and enhance our skills by sourcingcontinuing education for our colleagues
  • We foster PTA involvement within the CPA and the profession
  • We regularly update and communicate with our members through email and social mediaabout developments and highlights
  • We promote the NPAA, PTA profession and we support CPA in the achievement of its mission
  • We want to be the “go-to” place for news about our career!

CPA is inviting members to celebrate PTA Day on Thursday May 12th.  Take the time to recognize the contributions of your PTA and say Thank You!  Stay tuned for a toolkit on our website.

Comments

I am a newly graduated OTA/PTA struggling to find work. Any advice?

Volunteer as much as you can to gain experience, and keep applying. As a PT with my own clinic I look for experience. The more experience you have the more likely I will hire you.

Dear Aurelie and Amy,

I''m a Brazilian Physiotherapist (4-year university degree) looking for some information about PTA position in Canada. Is it possible to find a sponsor to apply for a work permit on my behalf to work as a PTA there? I know the profession is not one that needs to be licensed so I could start working in the area (even though in a below position) and proceed with my PT process of licensing.

I really appreciate if one of you could reply some information to my email.

Kind regards.

Patricia 

Volunteer to get experience and keep applying. As a PT with my own clinic I look for people who have lots of experience.

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