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Life of a PTA

Lead PT Wanted

Published January 24, 2014 5:59 PM by Allison Young

As a new PTA grad a few years ago, I was lucky enough to be mentored by two very talented physical therapists. Both PTs, who happened to be married to each other, took this petrified/inexperienced PTA and taught me the essentials of SNF rehab and more. After two intense and lesson-filled years, this PT couple left our therapy team to work in an orthopedic outpatient clinic.

Since their departure, our rehab director has valiantly attempted to fill the large void left on our rehab team. Specifically, looking for a strong PT willing to take the helm of our caseload. To be clear, we have two other capable PTs on staff, both of whom work part-time during the week and are new "mommies" with vested interest to leave work as soon as possible. The bulk of our rehab staff is made up of full-time PTAs (including myself) with varying degrees of experience but more importantly, patient advocates and devoted team members.

Over the past year, myself and the rest of the PTA staff have watched talented contract physical therapists and disinterested PRN PTs come and go with a varying sense of disappointment or relief. Having such a cohesive PTA staff and having lost such strong PT leaders, we were optimistically hesitant to bring on a new "captain" to our team. We waited patiently and hoped for a viable candidate to apply for the job.

There's a reason skilled nursing has one of the highest pay rates for physical therapists. The days are long and the patients complicated, coupled with grueling documentation demands, not to mention the productivity expectations -- you will be deserving of your paycheck. A PT has to carefully consider the SNF setting compared to the laid-back outpatient clinic. I've personally been told by one PRN PT (at work) that she "hated" skilled nursing. As you can imagine, she wasn't tapped for many more shifts.

Just when we thought we'd have to get to know one more "traveling-contract" PT, we were informed a local therapist accepted the position. As luck would have it, this PT is refreshingly "normal." She works well with her patients and staff, possessing the most important attributes to being a successful SNF therapist: clinical skills, compassion and a keen sense of humor. Having only just started the job two weeks ago, my PTA colleagues and I are crossing our fingers that she'll rise to the challenge of being our fearless leader. For now she'll have our support in every way and we'll all hope for the best. To be continued...

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Good point, Erin. "Laid back" was not the appropriate word choice for making a generalization. Having said that- I know which ortho clinic this particular PT worked in and compared to the SNF, it is laid back. I did not mention that small detail.  In re-reading my blog, it sounds like I'm talking about every out-pt setting, which was not my intention. My last 2month clinical was in a hospital "out patient" clinic and it was everything you described- and no, it was nothing close to laid back either. Thanks for taking me to task on this detail- I deserve it -and thanks for reading!

Allison January 28, 2014 12:54 AM

I can certainly appreciate your difficulties with this situation as I work as a PTA prn in a SNF.  Thankfully they have a wonderful PT.  My work there is strictly prn due to me working full time at an outpatient clinic.  While there is most definitly a difference in the two settings, I can assure you that outpatient is far from laid back.  We are hospital based and have our own set of gruling patients, documentation demands and productivity expectations.  As everyone, we are dealing with reimbursment issues, EMR documentation and all the technological difficulties that come with it all while mainitaining our standard of patient care and customer service that goes with it.  With 50+ patients a day and only 4 clinicials we are all running ourselves ragged.  So yes, you deal with your own set of problems, but that doesn't mean the outpatient world is a walk in the park either, just please remember that.

Erin, outpatient - PTA January 27, 2014 12:40 PM
Holland OH

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