I could use a critique on this essay. Thank you for any assistance and comments.
(4500 characters needed currently 4076 w/o spaces 4885 w/ spaces)
I still need to add in some anacdotal items.
Prompt: "What personal characteristics and motivating factors have led you to pursue the profession of physical therapy?"
Each time I am asked, "Why do you want to be a physical therapist", I respond, "...Because I get it."
Since middle school I have felt a pull towards physical therapy. It is my belief that this vocation allows the professional and patient to work together to achieve goals for improving the patient's life. To walk this journey with the patient, assisting and guiding them, some through insurmountable challenges, challenges me as a person and a professional. There was no single "magic moment" when I came to this realization that this was for me. It just fits who I am. I believe that if a dream or goal is desired strongly enough the "forces of the universe will conspire in our favor." (The Alchemist; Paulo Coelho)
"I get" that the muscle-skeleton system works together to heal or improve a condition. The therapy is provided in a relaxed, fun, environment that allows the patient and therapist to interact, connect in a personal manner, and build the trust needed for a successful result. (((INSERT AN EXAMPLE HERE))
Through my coursework as an undergraduate student of Kinesiology and volunteering with the physical therapists I see myself working in one or all of the following three areas of the profession; working developmentally disabled children, aquatic therapy, and geriatrics.
First, I believe I have the perceptive and patience which is needed to enable me to relate to the disabled person in meeting their therapeutic challenges. After many years of struggling in school with writing, spelling and attention skills, I was finally diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. At last I understood why some aspects of school were difficult and was now better able to conquer the challenges that stood in the way of achieving my dreams. During high school I successfully completed honors classes and forty college level credits, and ranked in the top 5% of my class. In my freshman year I basically began at a sophomore ranking. The hard work paid off with several college scholarships; Provost Merit Scholarship, Glendale High School Booster Club , Sybil B. Harrington, Kroger Scholars Award and Andrew Brown Scholarship from Arizona State University Disabilities Resource Center. Each success built more confidence in my abilities. With the belief that the more knowledge a patient has about their condition and goals for improvement the more they will work to meet their individual challenges, and through encouragement and confidence building the patient will achieve their optimal performance.
Second, as a lifeguard-water safety instructor since the age of sixteen, I was able to observe a connection to the benefits of water therapy. I have instructed some students diagnosed with special needs (i.e. autism, developmentally delayed). (INSERT EXAMPLE HERE) Because of my instruction in Kinesiology I appreciate the significance of how our body works and the benefits of the gentle resistance of water exercises and its strengthening and toning effects. This is especially helpful for fragile patients or those suffering from pain and range of motion issues, as in the elderly.
Third, the field of geriatrics interests me simply because I like older people. I have been lucky enough to know all four of my grandparents and have watched their battle against time. I see the frustration they experience as they feel beaten down by pain and the inability to function as they did in their youth. While observing the therapy sessions, I have seen how a person can rebuild their confidence as well as their body, thus improving their quality and outlook on life. Their lives have much value still and there is much to learn from them.
Finally, in holding leadership positions throughout school band, dance, swim and community involvement throughout my life (i.e. Girl Scouts, Church functions, City of Glendale Mayor's Advisory Commission, Knights of Columbus), I have learned the importance of doing for others, taking the initiative to get things accomplished and the skills needed to motivate people. In many situations I know what needs to be done and step up to take the initiative in accomplishing the task. Friends, family and employers have told me that I am a loving and empathic person.
As a therapist I believe I can be instrumental in improving the abilities and lives of my patients by providing enthusiastic and encouraging therapeutic sessions, and using my knowledge and experiences to develop goal oriented objectives. I truly do care about the people with whom I come in contact. I am very excited about how much I have already achieved in my life and look forward to the next stage. A vocation as a physical therapist will not just define my profession; it will define who I am!
"Because I get it"
We here at WebPT are big advocates for the rehab therapy industry—and that includes all the incredible PT, OT, and SLP assistants who positively impact the lives of their patients. So today, we thought we’d give you an inside look into the life and times of a fantastic PTA (and Twitter friend) Daniel Timm (@DaneTimm) of ATI Physical Therapy in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. Check out our interview with Daniel below.
WebPT: Why did you decide to become a PTA?
Daniel Timm: I was 20 years old—taking general education courses part time, training in martial arts, and playing semi-pro football—and I had no idea what I wanted to do professionally. I had enrolled at Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was going to be a pilot, but it just didn't feel right. So, I moved back to Wisconsin after two days and started detailing cars, boats, and planes. I loved it, but I always knew I wanted to help people.
In eighth grade during the spring of 1997, I had surgery to address my osteochondritis dissecans—the result of a soccer injury. Flash forward to my 20-year-old self: with the martial arts and football, I was hurt all the time. By 2003, I had surgery on a broken scaphoid, sprained MCLs in both knees, and suffered a fairly major shoulder subluxation, so I had my fair share of rehabilitation experiences. Around the same time, my father had surgery to "clean up" degenerative changes in his elbow, and they severed his median nerve.
It wasn’t long after my dad’s surgery that I was sitting in a fluidotherapy machine, wondering what I was doing there and thinking about my dad. That’s when I realized I could make a positive difference in people's lives through physical therapy. I never looked back.
WebPT: What steps did you take to make your PTA career happen?
Daniel Timm: I realized I couldn't afford to go back to school for a DPT degree, so I began to look at the local community college for courses that might apply to PT school. That’s when I learned about the PTA program. After reading the description and doing a quick Google search, I knew I wanted to be a PTA. During school, I joined the national technical honor society and Phi Theta Kappa. I spoke with a friend who went through the same PTA program; she gave me all kinds of advice, but my favorite was to get a job as a rehab aide or tech, so I did.
My first job in health care was a weekend position (5:00 AM to 3:30 PM every other weekend) at Aurora Sinai hospital in downtown Milwaukee. It is a teaching hospital, and I couldn't have asked for a better learning experience. I worked mainly in their inpatient rehab unit, a mostly neurological floor with a large population of stroke survivors and patients receiving Parkinson's medication adjustments. I also worked extensively with orthopedic, outpatient, and acute medical patients as well as patients in both ICU and CICU. I loved every minute of my five-plus years there, working with world-class therapists and soaking up information like a sponge.
During my last year of general education courses, I had the opportunity to find my true passion in private practice outpatient orthopedics. At the outpatient clinic, I had a great boss who served as a mentor during my time there. My community college, Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC), had a shared program with Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville, Wisconsin, about 90 miles from where I was living and working. I decided the opportunities I had to gain experience as a rehab tech were worth the commute. School was great. Susan Griffin PT, DPT, GCS, was our main instructor and another amazing mentor.
Halfway through my two-year program, I got a job working with a 10-year-old boy with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy. I was responsible for coordinating his therapies—two speech therapists, PT, and OT—and working with him at home to further develop his functional ability. Working with this child was an amazing experience, and through it, I learned about the wonderful world of pediatrics.
At this point, I had three jobs: working at Aurora Sinai hospital, at the outpatient orthopedic private practice, and with the 10-year-old boy. I had no personal life, so something had to give. I left the hospital. By the time graduation came, I had my pick of settings and several offers. I had a difficult choice between the private practice clinic I was working at and the site of my final clinical rotation, ATI physical therapy. I chose ATI.
WebPT: What’s a day in the life of a PTA like?
Daniel Timm: I work four 10-hour shifts: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. I start by reviewing my caseload and my to-do list (DCs, chart reviews, emails, etc.). Then I see eight to 15 patients with varying diagnoses, functional levels, socioeconomic backgrounds, and ethnicities. No two days are ever the same.
I am also involved with a spine education committee, and I’m a board member of the southeast district of the Wisconsin Physical Therapist Association (WPTA) and a member of the PTA special interest group. I’m also active in several charitable organizations. My days are busy.
WebPT: What do you feel is the greatest challenge facing PTAs both personally and professionally?
Daniel Timm: Personally, I believe complacency is a big problem with PTAs—whether it’s following a protocol, using clinical decision-making skills, or never speaking up when someone refers to the PTA as "just a PTA.”
As a profession, we hear so frequently about the changing environment of health care, specifically reduced reimbursements. Those practices that do not adapt could end up sacrificing quality of care in order to increase productivity, poorly or over-using PTAs, and decreasing employee pay and benefits.
WebPT: What is your favorite part about being a PTA?
Daniel Timm: Hands-on helping people. Seeing people achieve functional goals and knowing I played a big part in keeping an EMT on the job, a police officer on the beat, a high school athlete in the game.
Just today, I heard from a past patient who was training for the Madison Ironman and was unable to run six weeks out from the race due to pain. He finished pain-free somewhere around 13:20 and couldn't be happier. I was so proud. I’m proud of the results my patients can achieve, and I’m happy I’ve had such a positive impact on my patients’ lives. I also enjoy the advocacy, inspiring other PTAs to make a difference.
WebPT: Thank you, Daniel, for the great interview!
Are you a PTA? What challenges is the profession facing? What’s your favorite part of your job? Share your experiences and feedback in the comments below.