Physical therapy aide dreams of opening a bakery

In this interview, we get insight into what it is like to work in a physical therapy office as an aide. She explains how she came to secure this job while going to school with the goal of becoming a physical therapist, and shares that the most meaningful part of the job is the relationships that she builds with her coworkers and patients.

What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?
I work as a Physical Therapy Aide for a therapy center. I have held this position for almost 3 years. Helpful, dependable, and sociable are the 3 words I would use to describe myself.

What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best? Do you speak another language, and has it been helpful in your career?
I am a Pacific Islander female, and my gender and ethnic background have not hindered me. I have not experienced discrimination in my jobs, and unfortunately, I do not speak another language.

How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?
In my job, I help patients with modalities after their physical therapy. This may include putting ice on their injuries, or performing electrical stimulation. I also help with keeping the gym clean, the mats sanitized, and making sure there are clean pillow cases and towels. This work entails a lot of walking around and interacting with the patients and therapists. The only misunderstanding I want to correct is that some people think that I am a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?
I would rate my job satisfaction as a 9. I enjoy my job, in that I get to meet new people every day. I also develop friendships with the patients since they have to come for months for their therapy. The atmosphere that I work around is fun, bubbly, and entertaining. There is never a dull moment around the gym. The therapists and I try to keep the atmosphere lighthearted and easygoing, since the patients have to deal with a lot of pain due to their injuries. There is really nothing that needs to change except for wanting the application process for Physical Therapy school to be a little easier.

If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?
This job does move me, because the friendships I develop here, whether its with my coworkers or the patients, are lasting. It’s a satisfying feeling when I see a patient at the grocery store or around town smiling, happy, and see them back on their feet. I can see myself with a career in this field, but I would like to do something creative or
artistic. My sweet spot would be something in photography or baking. My lifelong dream is to be able to open up my own little bakery shop downtown.

Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?
To work in the physical therapy field, you have to be able to interact with the public. If you are shy or reclusive, then this is not a job for you. For years, I used to be extremely shy. I was afraid to open up and talk to people. I wouldn’t even look people in the eye and smile at them. However, I had a friend who was honest with me, and basically told me that I needed to change. So, I did. It took a long time, but I eventually was able to come out of my shell. I don’t think I would have been able to get this job as a physical therapist aide if I was still that shy, little girl.

How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
I was going to college to get a degree, then apply for physical therapy school. I found out through a friend that there was an opening for an aide position at a therapy center. I called the director and talked with him, had an interview the next day, and I got the job. I wouldn’t change anything. I wanted the job and went for it.

What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?
One thing you have to know about working in a small clinic or center is that “word travels fast.” People love to gossip, and coworkers love to gossip about coworkers. I learned that there were some things that I didn’t need to share at work or with certain coworkers.

What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?
The single most important thing I have learned is that you will be remembered most for your work ethic.

What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?
The strangest thing that ever happened was when a tornado went down the road just in front of our building.

Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?
I get up and go to work each day because I enjoy working with the people I work for. They are fun, caring, and we look out for each other. I also getting to see the patients we work with. Since we are a small clinic in a country town, we have that Mayberry atmosphere. What really makes me feel good is when I’m out sick or on vacation, the patients check up on me when I get back. They tell me that they missed me, if I’m feeling better, or how my vacation was. It’s nice getting to work in that kind of environment.

What kind of challenges do you face and what makes you just want to quit?
The challenge I face is just being able to multitask and make sure all the patients are taken care of. Nothing makes me want to quit more than when I have to deal with an unhappy patient.

How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?
My job is not stressful at all, and I’m able to maintain a healthy work-life balance. With my job, I’m able to have holidays and weekends off, and work a 7-5 job. So I’m able to do the things I enjoy after work and on the weekends.

What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?
The salary range is based on your work experience, and is comfortable for students working through college or a single adult.

How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
I take a reasonable amount of vacation. The job offers vacation/sick leave where you can take an ample amount of time off to go on vacation.

What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?
For a physical therapy aide position, it’s on the job training. For a physical therapist, you need a bachelor’s degree in order to get into grad school for the doctorate degree. For a physical therapist assistant, you can get an associate degree from a PTA program

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?
That it is a wonderful opportunity to be able to work in a field that helps improve people’s lives. It is a chance to work in a friendly environment, and get to meet new people every day.

If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?
I would like to be a wife, mother, and homemaker. After my children are grown up, I hope to one day open up my very own bakery.



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  • This is a similar career path for many people getting into occupational therapy… it’s what I did after before entering grad school. I think it’s interesting that she is now considering opening her own bakery, because career development isn’t always a linear path, and sometimes it takes awhile for us to really find what we are supposed to do in this world. And that’s totally okay. 🙂

  • I really enjoyed this article because i could relate to it as an occupational therapy assistant student. Physical therapy is similar to occupational therapy because we both help rehabilitate clients through a kind of therapy but occupational therapy is different because it indirectly treats injuries by focusing more on helping the client become independent and able in the everyday tasks they perform in their lives. I fell in love with occupational therapy when i did a senior project in high school that required me to find resources for blind and visually impaired individuals to regain independence. I am currently in occupational therapy assistant school and i am working towards a bachelors in healthcare science so that i can go to graduate school to become and occupational therapist. Just like there are physical therapist aides, there are also occupational therapist aides. I am actually looking for a second job as an occupational therapy aide for the upcoming summer. Many things about occupational therapy and physical therapy are alike. We work in the same kind of facilities, we worth with the same patients, make similar salaries, and work similar hours. The part of the career that i like is something that occupational therapy and physical therapy have in common; I like helping people get better and live a healthy and independent life. Physical therapists and occupational therapists often work together to rehabilitate patients. The healthcare industry requires different specialties to work together and i look forward to working with both physical therapists and speech therapists in my future field.

  • This is great information and I can tell that she answers the questions with a lot of details to inform the readers about her everyday experience. I am currently volunteering at a Physical Therapy clinic and I am absolutely in love with the work field. I love talking to people and being a Physical Therapist, there is a lot of one on one interaction. One of the greater joys that I have experienced thus far is seeing the patients improve their health and seeing their body transformation. The patient’s health is always the priority and being able to give patients the right exercises will help improve their health.

  • This article relates to the profession I would like to enter, not exactly but close: I want to go into Occupational Therapy. There are some facilities where Physical Therapist work along side with Occupational Therapist; therefore, this young woman could encounter a occupational therapist a few times in her life.

    I truly enjoyed reading how she feels towards her job because she sheds such a positive light on the field. She mentions how so likes going to work every day due to the interacts she creates; not with just the staff but with the patients too. This is honestly my favorite part about all the jobs I have ever had. She has the ability to build relationships with people she would not have the opportunity too otherwise. This is what I look forward to. I cannot wait to wake up every day and do what I love. All I want to do help people reach their full potential.

    We both have similar goals in life. She wants to open up her own bakery. I on the other hand, want to open up a resource center for individuals with disabilities. In my home town one would need to drive a hour to get to the nearest facility for individuals with disabilities and I would like to change that.

  • This article directly correlates to me in the way that, one day, I want to be a Physical Therapist or PT aide/assistant. It’s the path I’m taking in college right now and this excites me more than ever. This article really gets my hopes up for what I’m in for in the future if I do end up making it somewhere in the Physical Therapy department. I love to help others and being able to have that interaction with people everyday is beautiful. Like she says at the end, she wants to have her own bakery one day. Although she loves her job, there’s always something else you want to have that will make you even happier and I respect that very much. Being able to help someone everyday to better their life is what I’ve been doing since i was a kid and hope to be doing for the rest of my life.

  • This article was a very good one to read. I gained a lot of new information that was very informative. I liked how it explained that gossip goes around in small offices. A lot of co workers like to talk about each other, and sometimes it can push you away from the big job.

  • I am currently studying Kinesiology and want to become a Physical Therapist so that I can help others get back on my feet. Just a couple days ago, I saw an opportunity to become a Physical Therapy Aide to gain experience in the field and educate myself. I strongly relate to when she said you see the opportunity and you go for it. Luckily, they responded quickly and I have an interview tomorrow! I find it so inspiring that she dreams of opening a bakery but still has the idea of becoming a Physical Therapist. I can not wait to get the feeling she gets from her job.

  • I used to study physiotherapy and i worked like a physiotherapist assistant, an i know how wonderful in the experience working one o one with the patients. is incredible the connection that you create with them.

    is great to work with people and see the improvements every day and getting to know to that improvement is because you did well your job, and they appreciate that.

  • This was a fantastic article providing a brief overview of the realistic job duties and satisfaction associated with a career as a physical therapy aide. This story really resonated with me because I am working towards my master’s in occupational therapy and will some day be working alongside other therapists as a team.

    I really liked that the aide was satisfied with her career choice, but also had something still motivating her. Although her motivating factor wasn’t health care related, I found it inspiring. I think that it is wonderful to have these aspirations that motivate us to branch out of our shell and achieve greatness.

    I also would like to add that even with interests in baking, there may still be a health care field related or even therapeutic career such as an occupational therapy assistant, aide, or activity director to aide with activities of daily living (including baking)! I definitely believe there are creative ways we can utilize to find career choices that incorporate all of our interests to keep jobs engaging, joyful, and motivating.

  • This is an interesting article. As an pre-occupation and well-being major, I hope to work with patients and make an impact in their lives. One of the major aspects within myself that I had to deal with was shyness as well. For many years it was hard for me to interact with others and withhold a conversation. Now, a lot has change. Watching how people such as physical therapist change lives and improve the well-beings of others is exteremly inspiring. I want to reach the same level or even higher than this young lady in the future.

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