How to Succeed in Physical Therapy Assistant School

There’s no doubt you want to succeed when you are in school. After all, the more you learn and retain during your schooling, the more successful you will be in your chosen career. There are many different classes that you will take as you study to be a PT assistant, and all of them are important and will serve you later on. Whether you are learning about basic fundamentals of PTA, rehabilitation techniques, or written communication, you should pay attention and try to express interest, even if it is not the area of PT about which you are most passionate. Physical therapists have to be very knowledgeable about many different aspects of human anatomy and understand exactly how to write patient exercise programs. The more you know about these same subjects, the better help you will be to the PTs in the office. If you’re worried you won’t succeed while you’re in school, read over these tips.

Learn to be detail-oriented.

If you aren’t already, learning to pay attention to details may help you while you’re in school. For example, it can assist you when listening to a teacher describe a complex aspect of physical therapy. The more you can hone in on the intricacies and functions of the muscle group and retain each potential complication of a certain injury, the better you will ultimately understand these concepts. This skill will also come in handy once you have been hired by a doctor’s office or other PT location. As an assistant, you will need to take meticulous notes and keep track of your writings as well as the files of other PTs and PT assistants.

Be organized – both physically and mentally.
Organized people are often more productive because they understand the importance of to-do lists and schedules. While less organized people might have an overly-optimistic attitude, thinking they’ll figure out a way to get it all done, organized people execute a plan. You’ll likely be taking multiple classes at once in school, so keeping a schedule and list of assignments will help you not only get everything done, but get it done on time. If someone is mentally organized, it means that they have a running list in their head of what they need to do and have a rough idea of when things need to happen. This kind of organization can come in handy when you’re out running errands and need to keep track of a lengthening to-do list or spontaneously reshuffle your order of events. Once you are a PT assistant, being organized will help you effortlessly bounce back and forth between patients and keep their files and treatment plans orderly.

Have an attitude of curiosity.

You can definitely get by simply sitting in class listening to your teacher, and then passively regurgitating the lectures on tests. But if you really want to be an active learner, think critically about what your teachers are telling you and try to make connections to what you already know. You can run through hypothetical scenarios in your head and postulate about the decisions you would make. Being a curious learner also means asking a lot of questions. Your teachers have a lot of knowledge that they would be happy to share with you if you take the time to inquire further.

Practice what you learn.

Some schools have internships built into their educational programs, but in other cases you won’t be handed this opportunity. Many programs also allow students to get some hands-on experience, but this often isn’t as comprehensive as an internship. If sufficient chances to practice your skills aren’t built into your educational experience, seek them out on your own. All the textbooks in the world won’t prepare you as much as textbook reading plus real-world experience in an actual physician’s office. The benefit of doing this early on is that you have an opportunity to see where the holes in your knowledge are. Not only that, but you can have a chance to ask the physical therapists, most with master’s or doctoral degrees, any questions you have. They will have practical experience and a career’s worth of knowledge to share with you.


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