Becoming a physical therapist assistant (PTA) is an excellent choice in today’s rapidly expanding healthcare sector.
However, there are a number of careers that are related to the PTA field that may also be of interest.
Some of these careers are closely related to PTAs and may require similar education, while others involve different types of education and licensure.
The easiest related careers to enter are those that do not require a professional license. In addition, these careers generally require less in the way of formal education, which can be useful for individuals who do not currently have the monetary resources to enter a post-secondary school.
In some cases, it may be possible to enter a non-licensed career without any direct formal education, with the employee receiving on the job training from his or her employer.
Physical Therapist Aide
A physical therapist aide works in the same field as a physical therapist assistant, but performs lower level tasks and generally works under greater supervision.
An aide usually must be a high school graduate or hold an equivalency degree, but receives most of his or her training at from the employer.
Generally, physical therapist aides perform the following duties for their employer:
- Aides set up physical therapy equipment and ensure that the therapy area is maintained in a clean condition.
- The aide cleans and prepares linens such as bedding and patient clothes.
- He or she assists patients in moving. In some cases, this will require acting as part of a lift team for handicapped patients.
- Perform clerical tasks, such as filing and retrieving records and acting as a receptionist for the facility.
- Aides are not allowed to administer medication or perform other medical tasks save for when they are under the direct supervision of a licensed medical professional.
Dental aides work in dental offices where they assist the dentist, dental technicians and other medical professionals in providing high quality care to their patients.
Like physical therapy aides, most dental aides are trained by their employer rather than receiving a formal education, although some community colleges and vocational schools offer courses for those individuals wishing to fully prepare themselves for their career.
Dental aides are not allowed to work directly with the patients save when they are under the direct supervision of a dentist or dental technician.
Dental aides often work in the front office as receptionists. This duty mandates that they be able to effectively interact with the public in addition to their other duties. In larger dental offices, dental aides may specialize in certain duties at the wish of their employers.
However, dental aides working in smaller offices will usually serve as general assistants rather than specializing in any single area.
Jobs Requiring Licensure
These careers require some degree of licensure on the part of the state or professional association before the candidate can legally offer his or her services to employers.
Usually, the formal education is part of a certificate or associate’s degree program and can take anywhere from several months to two years, depending on the nature of the program, the student’s schedule and any further licensing requirements on the part of the state.
In addition, in most cases these licenses are granted on a state-by-state basis. For this reason, anyone moving to another state will have to obtain a license in that state in order to continue work, even if he or she is currently licensed in the previous state.
Finally, because of the variation of the law from state to state, in some cases a profession may not require state licensure in one state while other states will demand it. For that reason, anyone seeking to enter these professions should be certain to verify any licensing requirements with their local state regulatory boards.
It is important to note that in many states, working without a license may constitute both a civil and criminal offense, as well as exposing both the employee and employer to civil liability from patients and associates alike.
Dental assistants work with dentists and other licensed practitioners in order to provide their clients with high quality dental care. Unlike dental aides, dental assistants must usually be licensed and have completed a course of formal training before seeking employment. Dental assistants perform the following duties for their employer:
- Dental assistants work with patients in order to ensure that they are comfortable and prepared for any treatments they might receive. This often includes explaining what the dentist will do when he or she starts the treatment.
- Dental assistants sterilize and prepare dental instruments before an operation and ensure that they are cleaned and properly stored after an examination.
- During a procedure, the dental assistant helps the dentist by providing the instruments he or she needs and taking other actions under the dentist’s supervision.
- In some states, a licensed dental assistant may also perform coronal polishing, sealant application, fluoride application and topical anesthetics application.
- Train patients in the proper dental hygiene procedures.
- Keep and process patient records, including administrative records and medical information such as patient X-rays.
Dental assistants also work with dental aides and may in fact supervise dental aides as part of their duty. This may include training new employees while also organizing the rest of the dental aides in order to ensure that they can effectively perform their duties. In larger dental practices, there may be a number of dental assistants, with one serving as a supervisor and reporting directly to the practice’s overall manager or owner.
Ultimately, there are a wide range of fields that are related to PTA careers. For this reason, individuals seeking a career as a medical professional should carefully evaluate their interests and resources before deciding what field to enter.
In addition to independent research, speaking with individuals who are already working in the field may help the candidate decide in which direction his or her interests lie.
Finally, many community colleges, high schools and vocational training centers have knowledgeable employment advisers who can assist their students in determining what type of future career choice best suites their needs and desires.