This is the third article of a three part series.
Part 1: Become a Physical Therapy Aide
By: Mathew Hilton, MS, SPT, ACLS, PALS
University of Delaware Physical Therapy Class of 2017
In my last post, I discussed how you would search for and apply to a physical therapy aide or tech position. Now let’s assume that you’ve received a call back and they want to invite you for an interview. Congratulations! You’re made it to the next step, but now what?
Here are a few tips to help you prepare to succeed in the interview:
1. Read their Website
First you want to get an understanding of clinic in terms of the patient population, treatment methods and the size/scope of their facility. Most likely, they will be an outpatient orthopedic clinic, but do they have a sports focus? Maybe they work with geriatrics/older adults? Be sure that you’ll be comfortable working with these different populations and that you can speak to this in your interview.
Also, read their mission statement and values. Make sure that you can reflect those values in your responses to interview questions. For example, many clinics say they are committed to exceptional patient care--and maybe this means that you’ll go above and beyond in your duties to ensure that each patient is satisfied with their visit.
2. Learn Some Functional Anatomy
Some interviews for PT aide positions require a “pop quiz” of your knowledge of anatomy. This can be a challenging part of the interview if you have not taken an anatomy class, but it is important to learn the name, general location and actions of a few major muscles. Learning these will not only help you in the interview, but also give you an advantage when you start PT school as well.
Some important ones to know include: gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, rotator cuff (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, subscapularis), deltoids, rhomboids (major/minor), trapezius (upper, middle, lower), serratus anterior, quadriceps (rectus femoris, vastus medialis/intermedius/lateralis), piriformis, gastrocnemius and soleus.
3. Learn Basic Exercises & Stretches
Yes, it is true that you will probably go through very intensive training over several weeks to learn all of the exercises and stretches in detail. However, you can make yourself stand out by already walking into the clinic with some of this knowledge. This will also help you remember your anatomy.
In general, a strengthening exercise for a muscle will involve performing the muscle action. For example a quadriceps strengthening exercise would mean performing knee extension, such as through a long arc quad set or weighted knee extension. On the other hand, a stretch would involve performing the opposite of the muscle action (which would mean knee flexion), such as through a prone knee flexion stretch with a towel or strap.
4. Relax and Be Yourself
Overall, most clinics are not looking for you to have a ton of experience. In fact, some clinics have even told me that they prefer candidates with less experience because they take pride in being able to see young students learn and grow tremendously in their clinics over a long-term period.
Their biggest, unspoken concern is whether or not you will fit in with their team. They want to know if you’ll be someone that they’ll enjoy working beside in the clinic and that you’ll be able to interact with patients comfortably. Try to stay calm in the interview and show a little bit of your personality (do you like/play sports? What do you do for fun?).
Have I answered all of your questions about the process? Was your experience similar or different? Comment below and tell me about your experience with the PT aide interview process!
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