Hiring Physical Therapy Technicians
Physical therapy technicians (PT techs) support physical therapists and physical therapy assistants with the assessment and implementation of patient care, providing physical rehabilitation to patients recovering from any surgery, illness, or injury. Although physical therapy techs are not able to treat patients directly, most therapy settings rely on their skill sets to keep the processes running smoothly by avoiding delays. They prepare treatment areas and help keep the medical facility operating like a well-oiled machine. Additionally, incumbents assist with administrative and clerical duties while working under the supervision of licensed physical therapists. They usually are hired by hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, outpatient clinics, gyms, or rehabilitation centers. These professionals earn an average salary of $36,706 a year, with additional benefits. With opportunities increasing, the career outlook is positive, with the next few years expected to produce 38,000 job opportunities across the US.
Physical Therapy Technician job role and accountabilities
Depending on the employer, the job role is generally broken down into an unlicensed and licensed physical therapy tech role, where an unlicensed tech mainly performs clerical functions and a licensed physical therapy assistant (PTA) implements patient care. The unlicensed technician is in charge of administrative and clerical duties like updating patient records, ordering supplies, answering phones, and scheduling appointments. They are required to monitor and record patients' progress for the physical therapist, keep the physical therapy areas clean, maintain equipment, and accompany patients to the therapy area. In some facilities, they take care of compliance and policy implementation duties. On the other hand, a licensed PT tech provides patient care under the instructions of a physical therapist. They help patients perform exercises and provide therapeutic treatments that relieve pain, improve mobility, and build strength. They also help patients adjust to prosthetic devices, wheelchairs, crutches, and walkers.
Prerequisites for a Physical Therapy Technician
When hiring for an unlicensed PT tech, employers require a high school diploma or GED and generally train candidates on the job. For a licensed tech, applicants should have an advanced degree from an accredited program and a license from the state. In both cases, the hiring manager requires candidates to have qualities that are key to job success, such as being compassionate, detail-oriented, and conscientious. The PT tech is typically required to work with confidential patient records. Hence, the candidates applying for the role must be willing to protect patient privacy and adhere to all HIPAA regulations. They should be proficient in the use of relevant equipment, computer software, and Microsoft Office tools. The ideal candidate should have strong interpersonal, organizational skills, and customer service skills, along with the ability to multitask. They should show initiative and enjoy working with a team in a fast-paced environment. Furthermore, knowing standard policies, procedures, and OSHA regulations will be a plus for the candidates. Having manual dexterity and physical stamina are also essential for the position.