Job: Physical Therapist Assistant at Arkansas Muscle Gym in Jonesboro
Age: 24 | Hometown: Cave City
Alma mater: Arkansas State University (earned prerequisites at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville)
Degree: Associate Degree of Applied Sciences in Physical Therapy
Why did you choose to be a physical therapist assistant?
I was previously a kickboxer and had a career-ending injury that required physical therapy for rehabilitation. The biggest reassurance I had every day were the PTs and PTAs pushing me to get stronger. I was very dependent on them, not just physically, but they provided me with hope to have my life back. I decided I wanted to fill that same role in someone else’s life — of being able to give hope.
What was your schooling like?
The PTA program is very fast-paced. We cover a very extensive curriculum of anatomy in a short time. Muscular-skeletal therapy, pathology, neuromuscular anatomy, physical agents and massage are big focuses in our program. There are early mornings and late nights of studying for three semesters, averaging 40-50 hours a week in the classroom followed by another 10-20 hours of studying weekly. But it’s all worth it.
What is your job like?
I communicate with other therapists and health care professionals, read medical documents and administer interventions to patients within an established plan of care. We recognize how patients progress and alter treatments to fit individual needs.
What do you love most about your job?
I enjoy making someone’s life better. Pain and injury can completely alter a patient’s life, and that affects their mind and spirit. We’re healers, and I can go to bed every night content with that.
What has been the greatest challenge, and how have you overcome it?
I continued my education after a lot of pain and real life difficulties, including the loss of my brother and grandmother to separate illnesses. But through hard work and dedication, anything is doable. And making a positive impact every day in the clinic makes your own problems seem so small.
What would students be most surprised to know?
The diversity of jobs available in this field definitely came as a surprise to me. I never would have guessed I would be working with kids when I started the program. Even more so that I enjoyed it so much. You learn a lot about yourself in this field.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Why It's Hot
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the employment of physical therapist assistants will rise 31 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. The demand is expected to grow with the aging of the general population.
Physical therapist assistants must have an associate’s degree from an accredited physical therapy program, and all states require physical therapist assistants to have a license or certification.
The average annual wage for physical therapist assistants was $57,620 in May 2017*.
*SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
"Pain and injury can completely alter a patient’s life, and that affects their mind and spirit. We’re healers…”