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Quick stats: I'm 42, have 4 kids to support, currently applying to a PTA program so I can be working in healthcare sooner than later.  I have no previous degree. I am already completing pre-req's for PTA and it would take more time to switch to something else like RT, but I want to start working in a setting that will help me gain the best experience.  I've read mixed opinions on PTA for HCE/PCE requirement, so wondering where I find info on what PA schools really think of PTA experience.  Any advice appreciated. Thanks.

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If programs have accepted my PCE for being a PT Aide than there should be no doubt as a PT Assistant it should count.  Plus, you're practically doing a lot of what a DPT does and directly providing/modifying treatment.

Either way in the end, definitely speak to the programs you're interested in and make sure before you apply.

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  • 1 month later...

I would talk to the programs. I've worked as a PTA for 4 years and all the programs I applied to have accepted it. At my last interview it was received very positively. I've had experience working in multiple settings, and various specialties (ortho, neurological). Being able to discuss working with various team members (OT, social workers, nurses, doctors..etc) is a big plus and discussing your own documentation and implementation of treatment plans goes far.

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It's great experience. I was a physical therapy aide (not a PTA). PA school would be pretty boring in a class with 50 CNAs. IMO.

I'd do a cost-benefit analysis though (if you haven't already). Meaning, the cost of doing pre-reqs is both in money spent and in money not earned. For that to lead to a job in a field that is itself still a pre-requisite for yet another program (PA) seems like a very long, drawn out process to me. It would be one thing if you were already a PTA making a career change, but you're not. Why not just get your pre-requisites done for PA school and take a job now that doesn't require advanced schooling?

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Schools prefer CNA over PTA. PTA may be acceptable, but you're better off getting a job where you work with providers rather than physical therapists.

Having said that, the work of a PTA might be sufficiently more appealing that you decide it's worth a slight reduction in your competitiveness.

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I was a PT aide (level below PTA) and it was a great experience for me. As opposed to the CNAs, I was able to actually create my own treatment plans with my own patients once they were handed off to me by the physician, PA, NP, or PT. I was able to communicate my assessments with the physician/PA/NP after each round of treatment, which made me feel pretty useful as my observations were taken into account for the discharge plans. So you actually DO have the potential to work with providers and you aren't limited to cleaning, changing sheets, bathing, etc.

I really doubt that if two applicants are head-to-head, with one being a CNA and one being a PTA, the odds are automatically going to go in favor of the CNA.

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I’m really not trying to rain on your parade. But.

 

Have you fully explored what you would do as a PTA? Many many PTAs are required to do as much (if not more) manual physical labor as CNAs. Unless you’re going to be in something like sports medicine where the patients are generally able-bodied, there is a LOT of lifting involved in PTA work. A gait belt and an aide are great if you have both, but not guaranteed.

 

And Maynard. PTAs work with providers every day.  That’s like saying CNAs only work with nurses. 

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Thanks. I appreciate all the advice.  From my time observing PTAs and also STNA/ CNAs, the later seemed to have more physical labor.  Most of my time has been spent in SNF as an artist providing a program for the most severe cases. I have EDS so I just have to be careful, but I am functioning.  Since I don’t know how much time I have before things really start to fall apart, I hope I can experience working in healthcare soon in a capacity that fits me well. If only I knew how fascinating science is sooner! ?

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