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Ancillary Personnel

Published February 3, 2011 8:45 PM by Jason Marketti

I went on a search to find out if therapy was still considered ancillary in the health care system despite the move to the DPT. You guessed it; OT, PT and ST are often still listed as ancillary (subordinate) staff. I find this remarkable. No matter the degree attained, the level of independence as a provider and how valuable we are to patients, we are often considered ancillary staff.

One place listed jobs in this order: administration, doctors/PCPs, nurses and ancillary staff. Does this mean we do not play a vital role in the delivery of care? No, it means our PT job listing is between housekeeping and volunteer coordinator. I understand therapy has something to offer to patients that is independent of what everyone else offers, but we are not seen in a different light by human resources and the administrators who run large institutions. We are still the "helper staff," only we have a license so we can bill insurance for our services.

And since we get paid our ancillary wages, I guess we have no room to complain about what we are called, right?


Ancillary does not necessarily mean subordinate.  Other definitions include:  supplementary, assisting, extra, complementary, supporting.  Most telling is its antonym:  necessary.

When you look at this aspect of the definition, ancillary is a correct term for therapy.  Every patient in the hospital has to have a doctor and a nurse.  Every patient even has to have housekeeping and food services.  All rehabilitation therapies are complementary in nature and not necessary to every patient, as the other services are.  

It is easy to get caught up in labels.  I’m more concerned with how I’m treated than what I’m called.  There have certainly been health care personnel who have treated me as subordinate.  But they were few and far between.  Even though my position is technically ancillary to nursing, I was usually treated with as much or more respect, and my opinion given equal or more weight, than the nurses who were assigned to the same patients.  

We need to stop getting so wrapped up in labels.  I’ve found when I concern myself with doing my job professionally and treating others respectfully, everything else takes care of itself.  

Janey Goude February 4, 2011 12:06 AM

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About this Blog

    Jason J. Marketti
    Occupation: Physical Therapist Assistant
    Setting: San Jacinto, CA
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