October is National Physical Therapy Month!

Female physical therapist holding clipboard standing with her

October is Physical Therapy Month, and we’re joining in the celebration. At CareerStaff Unlimited, we recognize your important patient-care contributions, and wish you a Happy National Physical Therapy Month! 

We want to say a big THANK YOU to all of the amazing and hard-working PTs and PTAs in the CareerStaff network and across the country.

What is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy is the treatment most often recommended for people with painful joint or spine disorders. Trained Physical Therapists (PTs) or Physical Therapy Assistants (PTAs) work with patients over a period of time to improve comfort, flexibility, and strength of the affected areas of the body. Meanwhile, the specific physical therapy treatment can differ hugely depending upon whether the patient recently underwent joint, spine, or some other surgery to fix the underlying problem or is the main treatment approach – so PTs and PTAs deliver treatment tailored to each individual patient.

Notably, there are at least 227,700 physical therapists, and – like all other healthcare clinicians – they deserve our utmost gratitude for helping people across the nation who are afflicted with diverse disorders to return to their normal routines and/or preferred daily activities.

What’s The Difference Between a PT and a PTA?

PTs typically have graduated from a four-year college before undertaking a subsequent three-year program leading to a Doctor in Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. This DPT degree demonstrates successful completion of an accredited training curriculum inclusive of coursework, lab experiences, and a clinical practicum (student placement).

In contrast, PTAs typically complete a two-year degree program. For this reason, PTAs generally work under the direct supervision of a PT. Furthermore, the initial intake assessment of a new physical therapy patient (and any periodic progress assessments) is normally conducted by the PT. While the PT creates the physical treatment plan for each patient, PTAs (along with PTs) carry out that treatment plan.

There are also differences between PTs and PTAs in terms of salary and career growth. Due to their longer (and more intensive) training period, PTs normally earn a higher salary than PTAs. They also can open their own solo physical therapy practices. On the other hand, both PTs and PTAs usually can perform the very same treatments on patients (such as teaching a specific exercise or applying electrodes of a TENS machine for pain relief to a specific area of the body).

Settings Where PTs or PTAs are Employed

PTs are most often employed in hospitals, outpatient clinics, rehab centers, nursing homes, public health centers, Veterans Administration (VA) healthcare facilities, and by home healthcare agencies (to perform home-based care) or in schools. While this is also true for PTAs, their workplace settings are more curtailed due to the need for PT supervision. PTs also may be employed in research programs administered by university-based clinical researchers.

Meanwhile, both PTs and PTAs can work as travel clinicians that fill in at workplaces across the country that need physical therapy staff to replace those on maternity or short-term disability leave (or simply when a facility is short-staffed). Notably, all states in the US required that PTs and PTAs be licensed by a state regulatory board to practice in order to work as a PT (or PTA) in that state.

How The American Physical Therapy Association is Celebrating

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) since 1921 has been the primary professional association for PTs and PTAs (aimed at the advancement of physical therapy as a profession).  APTA’s ChoosePT Campaign – first launched in 2020 but continuing in 2021 – is focused not only on highlighting the importance to the overall health of physical activity/exercise but the contribution of PTs and PTAs in boosting physical activity in both children and adults across the US. Daily physical activity is vital to “heart health”, and lowers the risk for coronary artery disease (as noted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute).

What You Can Do to Celebrate National Physical Therapy Month

The following are five ideas as to how you can enable others to understand the contribution of both Physical Therapists (PTs) and Physical Therapy Assistants (PTAs) to the healthcare realm during National Physical Therapy Month:

  1. Ask teachers for permission to speak in their high school or college classrooms about what physical therapists do and reasons to choose physical therapy as a future career.
  2. Design a tee-shirt that says “I am a Physical Therapist (or Physical Therapy Assistant)”, and wear it in public in your community.
  3. Make a YouTube video about how to become a Physical Therapist or Physical Therapy Assistant, and share it with your social media network.
  4. Send cards to your family and friends inclusive of the phrase, “Happy National Physical Therapy Month!”.
  5. If you are a physical therapist who is supervising physical therapy assistants, give them each gift cards with a message enclosed that says, “You are valuable and I am wishing you a Happy National Physical Therapy Month!”

Celebrate PT Month with a New Career Opportunity from CareerStaff

There are many resources for PTs and PTAs seeking a job change or newly-graduated PTs (and PTAs) seeking their first job. However, submitting resumes and interviewing at multiple healthcare facilities can be both time-consuming and labor-intensive. CareerStaff is a great resource for you to find a PT or PTA job that will meet your personal needs.

“The phone call that they had found me a contract, after especially knowing how hard they were looking for me when COVID increased that challenge, is one of my favorite memories with CareerStaff,” said Rachel, a Tacoma-based physical therapist and a Clinician of the Month for October 2020.

At CareerStaff, our focus is healthcare employment including physical therapy jobs. We place clinicians across the U.S. and in diverse types of hospitals, skilled nursing facilities (SNF), outpatient clinics, and various other settings. Happy National Physical Therapy Month!

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Last Updated on November 29, 2021