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Andrea Hanlon

I love being a PTA because it allows me to help others. I love being a PTA specifically in acute care as every day has new challenges. Even though I have been a PTA for over 12 years, I continue to find new things to learn, overcome new challenges and find new ways to help others. Each patient teaches me something new, so each day is unique. In my opinion, being a PTA is actually a privilege as I get to work with individuals at some of their most vulnerable stages of their lives. In acute care, physiotherapy can be very challenging, both physically and mentally. There isn’t always a happy ending, or the desired outcome, but if I can make a difference in someone else’s life for just even one day of their hospital stay, it is very rewarding.

Sometimes, just getting to sit with someone, and have an informal chat about the struggles in their life, has a huge impact in that individual’s day. This also allows me to build a trusting relationship, which is critical for some of our treatments. Rapport goes a long way in rehabilitation. Often, there is a lot of resistance, as patients don’t understand that physical therapy is very beneficial to them. When the treatment causes the patient to be completely out of their comfort zone, and possibly in a lot of pain as well, the trust we have built in our rapport allows the patient to make that little bit of an extra effort that they might do otherwise. I think this is also very rewarding in this profession, as someone has given me so much respect, and trust to help them reach their goals.

I also think it is okay to be very real with your patient. I have shed tears of joy and sadness with patients. There is always a couple of patients that will touch your heart in a different way than others. Everyone deserves equal amount of care, compassion, trust and engagement, but sometimes there’s just something different. I think this also allows the patient to know that they are not just a number; it makes them feel that you, as the healthcare provider, are real and do have an understanding of how challenging or exciting something can be. I always remind others that your professionalism is your number one priority, but having a heart can never be ignored.

Being a PTA has also been very rewarding as my career has evolved for other reasons. Mentoring others, such as new hires or students, has been a rewarding and humbling experience as well. It’s great to have new PTAs (and sometimes PTs) challenge your thoughts, remind you of your education and learn together on some new things that you might have never discovered on your own. No one can ever take away your experience or knowledge, but to only continue to build upon it.

I also like the activity level as a PTA. This is one reason I went into the profession initially - I get to enjoy helping others be as active as they possibly can and I enjoy being mobile in my job. I feel this will keep me young and my body healthy. My education serves me well for both physical activity with my patients, as well as my own physical wellness. When I go to the gym, I am able to safely lift weights as I understand my own body mechanics because I have studied it for the safety of my patients. Being a PTA is a truly rewarding career and continues to challenge me in both my personal and professional life.

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This is exact reason, as well as the primary reason why I’m choosing this profession. The fitness world has always had a place in my heart, which make my current knowledge, and the upcoming knowledge benefit me and my future patients and clients.

I look forward to each day learning more ways to become a better PTA.

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