Although it sounds pretty specialized, physical therapist assistants actually work in a variety of different job settings. The field is growing quickly, and new employment opportunities are popping up all of the time. Here are some of the main environments you may choose to work in after earning your degree.
This is the most common job setting for physical therapist assistants, accounting for more than half of the current positions. Clients live at home and then travel to the clinic for treatment. Most outpatient clinics in the United States are private, though some are government owned. One of the most common types of outpatient clinic is a sports physical therapy clinic, where athletes receive treatment to help them recover from sports-related injuries.
Hospitals account for the second-highest number of physical therapy assistant jobs. Physical therapy clinics in hospitals mainly focus on helping patients recover from illnesses and surgeries. For example, a physical therapist assistant working in a hospital may specialize in exercises and techniques for recovering from a knee or hip replacement. They may also work with patients who have suffered serious injuries, like in car accidents.
Rehabilitation centers provide services for people who require longer term therapy than hospitals can offer, and residential rehabilitation centers work with people who require more intense therapy than outpatient clinics can provide. The goal of these centers is to prepare patients to return to a normal, independent life following an injury, illness, or surgery. Rehabilitation centers may provide intensive or less intensive care, based on the type of center and the patient’s needs. In these settings, physical therapist assistants may work on a team that includes medical doctors, occupational therapists, speech therapists, counseling psychologists, and more.
Home health care agencies
With the population aging and hospitals and other health care facilities working to cut costs, home health care is currently the fastest growing segment of the health care industry. Physical therapist assistants working for these agencies provide services in patients’ homes.
Pediatric care centers
Pediatric care centers are special clinics for children. In these clinics, physical therapist assistants may work with children with birth defects or physical disabilities, as well as those who are in recovery.
On the other end of the age spectrum, physical therapist assistants who specialize in geriatric care frequently work in nursing homes. Their goal in these settings is to help elderly patients maintain mobility and teach them how to prevent injury. They may also help patients recover following falls and knee or hip replacement surgeries.
In this post we’ve looked at some of the top job settings for physical therapy assistant school graduates. In the next post we’ll explore some more clinical settings you might not have considered.