PT Aide/Tech Certificate Program
A woman claimed to be a physical therapist but didn't have a college degree. Despite a specific line of questioning, she just couldn't bring herself to admit she was a PT tech. Why did she misrepresent herself?
While this woman is held in high regard, she isn't exempt from the high value our society places on status. Have "tech" and "aide" developed such demeaning connotations that she is ashamed to be identified with that position?
Did she lie about her position or did she not understand her title? There are three levels of physical therapy clinicians: physical therapist, physical therapist assistant and physical therapy aide/tech. I have always used "tech" and "aide" interchangeably.
Today's nomenclature has grown murky. An Internet search reveals PTA (physical therapist assistant) and PTT (physical therapist technician) are used interchangeably. Job postings further confuse the issue by using the term technician/technologist to refer to two different positions: a position that requires a two-year associate's degree and a position that requires only a high school diploma.
PTs and PTAs are educated in school about ethics and PT/PTA standards and guidelines. However, aides/techs may not receive that training. Their training, on ethical and treatment issues, is unique to the facility that hires them. This woman may not have known she was doing anything wrong by calling herself a physical therapist - especially if her first job was in a clinic where professional employees embrace the mindset of inappropriate aide/tech utilization.
A physical therapy aide/technician training program with national standards would provide consistent skill instruction, ensuring minimum competency. The course could include an ethical component, instructing students in appropriate tech/aide utilization and the proper course of action when this boundary is crossed. The program could consist of training (lectures, simulated lab and hands-on clinical), a test and a certificate of competency given upon achieving a passing score.
When I looked at my physical therapy license, there was no question what I did for a living. The aide/tech certificate would answer this question for all candidates who successfully completed the training program.
What terminology do you use for physical therapist assistants and physical therapy aides? Do your aides accurately represent themselves in social situations? Does the physical therapy profession need to look at instituting a certificate program for aides/techs?