Physiotherapist Assisting FAQ
How do I become a physiotherapist assistant?
Attending school is a great first step. Most employers require formal training when hiring for this position, so you may want to consider a post-secondary education, such as a two-year associate's degree. Your training will include hands-on learning and clinical experience in the field.
Are a physical therapy assistant and a physiotherapist assistant the same thing?
Yes; they are different ways of describing the same job. Depending on provincial licensing requirements, both are allowed to help develop treatments and record patient progress under the guidance of a physiotherapist.
How long does training usually take?
Generally, training requires a two-year associate's degree program. There are also schools that can prepare you for a career in 18 months. It's best to consult with the schools you're interested in to determine how they schedule their programs.
What will I learn in school?
Physiotherapy involves the treatment of patients who are dealing with chronic pain or restricted mobility due to injuries, disabilities, or disease. So your training should include hands-on learning in subjects such as exercise therapy, anatomy, pathology, kinesiology, massage therapy, and much more. You'll learn to work closely with licensed physiotherapists in the development and implementation of patient treatments.
Throughout your program, you can learn to perform ambulation, traction, and electrical stimulation treatments, as well as massage techniques, and heat/cold application therapy. You can also train in balance, co-ordination, and mobility training exercises.
Another important area to learn about is patient education. A good program will prepare you to effectively teach patients to perform the various exercises and treatments. You can master progress measurement and assessment, which enables you to accurately track and measure the effectiveness of a particular treatment plan.
Externships and Real Experience
Many programs will also include an externship as part of their curriculum. Most externships take place within physiotherapy offices, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, health clinics, or home health agencies. Throughout your externship, you can gain experience working directly with patients, under the supervision of a professional physiotherapist.
Externships are also extremely valuable in that they give you the opportunity to network and make contacts within the field, which can give you an advantage when you begin job hunting.
What are the typical job duties?
As a physical therapy assistant, you could help develop, implement and maintain courses of treatment for patients suffering from physical challenges. You can help improve the mobility of those coping with, or recovering from, disease, accidents, or other trauma.
You can guide patients through a variety of treatments and exercises, including ambulation, balance, and coordination training, massage treatments, therapeutic exercise, and traction treatment. You may also be responsible for tracking, measuring, and assessing the progress of patients, which can allow you to clearly see how your work and efforts are positively affecting others.
What career options will I have after graduating from school?
You could work in a variety of settings, including health care centers, hospitals, home health services, and outpatient care centers.
How much can I earn?
According to Payscale.com, the median income for physiotherapist assistants in 2014 was $39,381. The majority earned anywhere from $20,608 to $48,160.
Are there any related fields that I might be interested in?
As there are many people who require therapeutic services, occupational therapy aides or assistants are being hired in record numbers in an effort to reduce the workload of occupational therapists. In this role, you can help people with mental, physical, and developmental disabilities with the goal of improving their quality of life.
The daily responsibilities in this field can be quite varied. You could help patients work through activities and exercises, or prepare equipment and materials that the occupational therapist requires to administer treatments. You may also need to take care of the front office. This can include filing insurance papers and scheduling appointments.