The growing importance of physical therapy in America’s healthcare sector has resulted in a strong and growing demand for licensed physical therapist assistants (PTAs).
Because of this, a large number of individuals have decided to enter this career, taking advantage of its strong and growing career and salary options.
In fact, becoming a PTA can help ensure a long-term professional career for both newly graduated individuals and those individuals who are transitioning to a new career.
Currently, PTAs are enjoying excellent job opportunities all over the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has estimated that there were over 71,000 active PTA jobs as of 2012. Between 2012 and 2022, the number of available PTA jobs is expected to increase to about 100,700.
This represents an increase of at least 41 percent, which is a rate of job creation that is far higher than the average for the American job market.
In addition, job attrition due to retirement and other factors will dramatically increase the number of job openings available to newly licensed PTAs. For this reason, qualified individuals can easily find a job as a PTA in most parts of the United States.
In addition, the current salary levels for licensed PTAs are quite competitive with other careers that involve a similar training commitment. As of 2012, the BLS estimated that the median annual wage for a qualified PTA was over $52,000. Many PTA’s enjoy excellent benefits, including health insurance and paid vacation time.
Finally, experienced PTAs or those working in high-demand fields can earn considerably more than the median wage, with the top 10 percent of PTAs earning an annual salary of over $72,000.
PTAs who are recognized specialists will find themselves being offered greater responsibilities than less qualified coworkers are.
The Qualities Needed by a Successful PTA
As medical professionals, PTAs work with a wide range of patients and situations. This is especially true due to the numerous subfields a PTA can choose to focus on as part of his or her career.
For example, a PTA working in an outpatient clinic assisting individuals who have suffered sports related injuries will have different duties and responsibilities than a PTA working with elderly individuals suffering from dementia.
For this reason, a PTA or individual planning to become a licensed PTA should always consider what their ultimate career choices will be when preparing for this field.
Pay Close Attention to Detail
As a medical professional, the PTA will be expected to understand and carry out a wide range of complicated procedures. In addition, PTAs may also be expected to administer various types of medication depending on their specialty and the state they are working in.
For this reason, a PTA must always be exact in both carrying out and giving instructions. This is especially important when it comes to administering drugs, as failing to follow those instructions can result in serious injury or death to the patient.
In addition, when writing reports for his or her superiors, a PTA must be able to provide accurate and detailed information in order to ensure that the patient’s therapy is as effective as possible.
Be Physically Fit
Most PTAs must remain on their feet for the majority of their workday. In addition, PTAs must often assist their patients before, during and after physical therapy sessions.
In some cases, a PTA will have to transfer handicapped patients from place to place. For this reason, a PTA should always be physically fit and able to work for long periods of time without discomfort. This can be especially important if the PTA is working in a position that involves large amounts of unscheduled overtime.
Be Courteous of Others
The PTA must be able to work effectively with her coworkers, superiors and patients. For this reason, a PTA must always have a polite and professional attitude. This can be especially important when working with the elderly or those with cognitive disorders. In many cases, these individuals can be angry, frightened or otherwise non-compliant.
The PTA must also be able to remain calm even during medical emergencies in order to ensure that he or she will provide the best possible assistance to the patient.
Honesty and the Ability to Handle Confidential Information
All medical professionals regularly handle confidential patient information. Both federal and state law mandate that this information must only be shared with authorized individuals.
For this reason, a PTA must always be aware that he or she has been entrusted with a great responsibility in handling a patient’s confidential information.
In addition, patients and family members will often ask the PTA for advice that he or she is not qualified to provide. The PTA must be honest with his or her patients in this case rather than raising false hopes by providing a diagnosis that he or she is not qualified to make.
This can be very difficult in some cases, as the patient, family members and friends may be quite insistent in their desire for the PTA to provide medical information. Nonetheless, the PTA must be able to calmly direct the patient to those medical professionals who are qualified to discuss his or her case.
Ultimately, becoming a PTA can be an excellent choice for those individuals seeking a long-term and rewarding career. By becoming a PTA and focusing on the qualities needed to ensure success, an individual will be able to enter a rewarding career as a licensed PTA.