Beverley Biggs (Woodman)
The love for my career started when I was first started working as an assistant, and even though my role has changed over the years, my love of being a Physiotherapist Assistant (PTA) hasn’t.
When I first started out, physiotherapy found me, not the other way around. I didn’t know anything about the profession. I am not an athletic person or come from a family of health care workers; I fell into working with special needs children in a school setting that happened to have a physiotherapist on staff. I loved helping these kids grow, learn new activities and help achieve independence in this world. Anyone that does this kind of work knows exactly what I mean. These kids may have had difficulties with ambulating, or their daily self-care and activities, but they are some of the happiest, most carefree people I have ever worked with! They were always able to bring a smile to my face and I fell in love with the idea that I could help them achieve even the smallest of their goals. That’s when I got hooked on physiotherapy and my career as a PTA.
The physiotherapist that I was working with gave me some information on a program that had just started at Humber College to become a PTA. She felt I would do really well and would be able to continue working in the field that I had come to love. She had the foresight to see that the world of physiotherapy was changing in regard to assistants, and that I would need some education in order to continue as one. Looking back, she had no idea what she was throwing me into. I thank her for this all the time, even though I have lost contact with her. Elaine, wherever you are… I thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Going back to school opened up the whole world of physiotherapy to me and led me to working in hospitals, all the while still doing the thing I love - helping people to achieve their goals! These goals are different with everyone, but the basis is still the same. They have something to achieve and I can help them try to achieve that goal! Opportunities within the role at the hospital have varied over the years and have landed me in Critical Care where I am always learning something new almost daily. The professionals I work with are always teaching me something, giving me a variety of skills to my role as a PTA, and the new challenges make every day unique.
The world of physiotherapy has also opened the door to so many more things for me to achieve personally. My initial love of the profession had led me down so many other career tangents within physiotherapy itself. I have come to love that I have a variety of skills for my PTA role and I have never been bored with my job! I have been able to continue working with patients to achieve their goals, along with being a leader and a voice to further the PTA profession itself. I was able to do this by opening doors and sitting at boardroom tables to advocate for PTAs, which led to what is now called the National Physiotherapist Assistant Assembly (NPAA). I have been part of the process in creating the position statements and competency profiles by participating in the working groups and steering committees in their creations and revisions. More recently, I had been part of the OTA/PTA Vision project, an online discussion group looking at the future of PTAs in Canada. I was also given the opportunity to be part of the Humber College Advisory Committee for many years as an alumni member in support of the College’s OTA/PTA program. I have also had the opportunity to be a lab instructor within the PTA program itself to inspire others and educate them in both the classroom setting, as well as fulfilling their placement requirements at my workplace. In my current role at the hospital, I have also had the opportunity to be part of a union as a leader and advocate for PTAs and other para-professionals as the Unit Vice President of CUPE. I am currently continuing with this role and helping PTAs and others in the sector know how to have a voice and advocate for themselves when they need to.
All the things I have mentioned above are the reasons why I love being a PTA. My role is not just a PTA helping patients achieve their goals, but I have also been able to lead, teach, advocate, inspire, mentor and be a role model to so many others to help them achieve their goals as well! My initial love of those children with special needs has led me through many different pathways that only further enhance my love of being, and continue to be, a PTA.